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Meet Our New Leader For Physicians And Patient Quality

Community Memorial Healthcare’s expert medical staff includes over 300 physicians who are dedicated to partnering with their patients to navigate their health and wellness journeys. Every two years, a new Chief of Staff is appointed to lead this dynamic group and ensure that Community Memorial’s hospitals and health centers are providing the best possible experience to patients. In this episode, we sit down with Dr. Chris Johnson, Community Memorial Healthcare’s 2023 – 2024 Chief of Staff, to discuss his education, background, and experience, as well as the day to day role of Chief of Staff. We also discuss his goals for the Community Memorial Medical Staff for the next two years, and the biggest challenges he sees in healthcare as we move into the post-COVID era.

To learn more about Community Memorial Healthcare
Meet Our New Leader For Physicians And Patient Quality
Featured Speaker:
Chris Johnson, MD
Dr. Chris Johnson, Community Memorial Hospital's Medical Director of the Emergency Department.
Meet Our New Leader For Physicians And Patient Quality

Maggie McKay (Host): With a new year comes a new Chief of staff at Community Memorial Healthcare. It's a big responsibility being the leader for physicians and patient quality. So today we'll meet Dr. Chris Johnson. Also the. The emergency department at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, and as of January 1st, the new chief of staff will discuss what his position involves, the importance of primary care and post covid health management and more. This is Wise and Well presented by Community Memorial Healthcare. I'm Maggie McKay. Welcome and congratulations on your new title, Dr. Johnson.

Dr Chris Johnson: Thank you Maggie, and thank you for having me on.

Maggie McKay (Host): Absolutely. Just to start, can you tell us about yourself and your new role at Community Memorial Health?

Dr Chris Johnson: So I started working at Community Memorial 21 years ago, directly out of my residency at La County, USC. And, I've enjoyed taking care of the patients in the community here for the past two decades and looking forward to my new role as Chief of Staff.

Maggie McKay (Host): And what's your background in emergency medicine?

Dr Chris Johnson: Well, Like I said, I did my four years of training down at LA County and that prepared me to pretty much take care of anything. And so directly out of that residency, I had a short stint at Cedar Sinai and I, didn't like the commute in the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. And my wife and I settled in this community of Ventura, which we love so much, and, have enjoyed spending the last two decades here taking care of, our patient.

Maggie McKay (Host): Ventura is gorgeous. I used to work there too. It's beautiful. I can see why, he would like to get away from the traffic. What does a chief of staff do day to day? Take us through your day and what's your role in managing physicians and patient care?

Dr Chris Johnson: Well, as you can imagine with approximately 300 physicians in the community Memorial Health system, there are always issues to deal with and small fires to put out. My main role is to lead, the medical staff in making decisions and organizing our medical staff policies and enforcing our medical staff policies and making sure that we provide the best care to our patients. That entails overseeing quality and the various directors of service lines in our hospital. And I'm pretty much, sort of the liaison between our medical staff and administration, and so I interact daily with the administrative leaders in our hospital and with the medical staff at large, including the physicians in the community.

Maggie McKay (Host): Dr. Johnson, what does a chief of staff do that impacts a patient's care and their experience?

Dr Chris Johnson: Well, when patients come to our hospital, they expect a certain level of service, and if that level of service is not being met. Then my job is to make sure that we make the changes to address our shortcomings and make sure that we make their experience better going forward. And so an example of that would be, let's say, for instance, in the emergency room where I'm most familiar with, if our wait times are too long or if the, waiting room is too chaotic, then I can, go down to the department, walk through it, and see how we can make changes and bring the leaders together to address ways in which to make the experience better.

Maggie McKay (Host): And what are your biggest concerns with the state of healthcare today?

Dr Chris Johnson: One of my biggest concerns is that post covid, there's a huge backlog of patients not being able to get in to see their physicians and procedures that have been postponed and delayed, and patients are really finding it difficult to get in to see their primary care physicians. So to no fault of their own, they are utilizing urgent cares and emergency rooms for their primary care needs. Although we're able to provide great care in these facilities, it's not the same as senior primary care physicians.

So these systems are getting overwhelmed and the patients aren't getting the care that they need. And we currently have a shortage of primary care physicians throughout the nation and the. Things like screening exams are, being delayed, and my fear is that we are gonna see complications of chronic diseases going forward for years now because of this backlog.

Maggie McKay (Host): So in your new role, how will you and the physicians you work with and the other leaders at Community Memorial tackle these concerns to help patients access and receive quality care?

Dr Chris Johnson: It's a great question, and a very complicated one, but there are some concrete examples of things that we can do. For instance, the outpatient surgery center and our inpatient surgery center, we're currently. Very backed up with procedures that were delayed during covid, and with the cooperation of our anesthesiologists and our surgeons, we will be able to increase our abilities to move through those cases more quickly. In addition to that, we have a robust residency program where we're training young and very talented new physicians. And our goal is retain those physicians and encourage them to stay in our community and to become those primary care physicians and leaders in our community going forward. And we're really excited about this new energy that we have at our facility.

Maggie McKay (Host): Let's talk about the importance of primary care in post covid health management. You talked about it a little bit, but especially from a chief of staff's point of view.

Dr Chris Johnson: Well, the primary care physicians are really the core in the center of our healthcare system. They are the ones who orchestrate. Your care and they make sure that you get all of your screening tests done and they're able to keep you healthy. And that's one of the downfalls of the American Health System is we tend to focus on treating diseases as they arise, whereas the primary care physician is more focused on preventing diseases before they actually happen, which is key to cost savings and key to keeping us healthy and having long, healthy lives.

Maggie McKay (Host): When you look back at your career when you started, did you ever think you would be sitting in this position of chief of staff?

Dr Chris Johnson: No, I did not think I'd be here. when you start out young and you move into a hospital, you look at these old. Sort of elderly, mature physicians and it's hard to picture yourself being in that leadership role, those doctors I admired so much and really looked up to. But as you go through your career and, I was involved in medical staff leadership from the beginning and you learn so much and you gain all this institutional knowledge. And at some point, you really feel like you want to mobilize that knowledge, to help the system that you've put so much into. And thankfully that happened with me and I'm honored to be in this position and I'm excited to move forward and make some positive change.

Maggie McKay (Host): That's very exciting. Dr. Johnson, it's been a pleasure meeting you and learning about the role of Chief of staff and how it impacts patients, plus the importance of primary care and post covid health management. Thank you so much and enjoy your new chapter.

Dr Chris Johnson: Thank you Maggie, and thank you for having me on.

Maggie McKay (Host): Once again, that's Dr. Chris Johnson.. If you'd like to find out more, please go to my That's my, If you found this podcast helpful, please share it on your social channels and check out the full podcast library for topics of interest to you. This is Wise and Well presented by Community Memorial Healthcare. Thanks for listen.