December 17, 2021

Improving patient safety keeps nurse leader inspired

Meet Marianna Volodarskiy, winner of the Kaiser Permanente 2021 Excellence in Quality and Safety Award.

Marianna Volodarskiy, MSN, the regional director for maternal child health services for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, is always searching for opportunities to ensure the best care for mothers and babies. Under her leadership, the multi-disciplinary team successfully:

  • Eliminated bloodstream infections in the neonatal intensive care unit since 2018
  • Reduced the rate of elective surgeries in maternal care from 2.9% to .14%
  • Reduced the rate of cesarean sections for patients without complications from 30% to 23%

Seeing these improvements in patient safety inspires Volodarskiy, the recipient of the 2021 Kaiser Permanente Excellence in Quality and Safety Award.

The award, one of the annual Kaiser Permanente National Nursing Excellence awards, recognizes a registered nurse who makes a significant contribution to patient safety and quality.

The quality and safety accomplishments continue

woman standing next to board displaying information about her work

Volodarskiy, at the 2019 Kaiser Permanente Quality Conference, poses with the results of her work to improve communications to patients about medications.

During the first year of the pandemic in 2020, Volodarskiy’s team kept its focus on what’s best for the health of mothers and babies: natural childbirth. As a result, the team performed under the 23.9% target for c-section rates set by The Joint Commission, according to Jerry Spicer, chief nurse executive and vice president of patient care services for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California and Hawaii, and one of the leaders who nominated Volodarskiy.

Volodarskiy and her team also implemented and provided continuous oversight to Kaiser Permanente’s kangaroo care program in Southern California, ensuring that evidence-based care is provided to babies in neonatal intensive care units to maintain stable body temperature, improve heart rate and oxygen level, promote baby-parent bonding, and increase the mother’s milk supply through skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby. Studies demonstrate long-term effects of the care program, including a positive impact on baby’s brain function and growth, according to Jaime Reiter, regional administrative leader of hospital-based services for Kaiser Permanente, who also nominated Volodarskiy.

Volodarskiy answers questions about what motivates her.

woman standing at lectern

Marianna Volodarskiy, a regional director for maternal child health services for Kaiser Permanente, presents an overview of nursing successes to a maternal child health team in 2016.

How important is innovation for the nursing profession?

It’s tremendously important, now more than ever, because the environment in which nurses work is growing more complex every year. Nurses must innovate and view things differently as patient populations and work environments change. Leaders must listen to the nurses who work directly at the bedside with patients as these nurses are the best partners in innovation.

Where do you find your inspiration and energy?

I am very much results-driven. Seeing improved patient satisfaction with the care experience and decreases in unnecessary C-sections inspires me to keep moving because this tells me the patient is happier and healthier. Driving overall quality of health improvement and making a difference on a larger scale as part of population health improvement is inspiring and motivational.

How have you kept up your resilience during the pandemic?

Knowing how many nurses, patients, and families rely on me, my co-workers, and my physician partners to provide tools, support, and encouragement keeps me going. It’s similar to being a mother and knowing that your kids depend on you. It doesn’t matter what life throws your way — you will find the resilience to get through it.

What type of self-care do you prioritize for yourself now?

Personally, what helps me unwind are my 2 children. Being able to be in a bubble with them helped me get through the pandemic.

Watch Volodarskiy and all Kaiser Permanente’s 2021 nurse excellence award winners discuss nursing and their award recognition.