May 6, 2019

Air Force medic to Kaiser Permanente nurse

Meet Christopher Cox, one of the 2019 Extraordinary Nurse Award recipients.

Christopher Cox knew he’d found his place after saving a woman’s life as part of the Kaiser Permanente’s Rapid Response Team. As a Rapid Response Team nurse, he assesses patients and quickly coordinates plans of care. He uses experiences like this to educate others.

Christopher Cox, RN, works at the Sunnyside Medical Center for Kaiser Permanente Northwest.

“We are experts in high-stakes situations, which puts us in a good place to be able to teach others what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Cox explained.

What made you want to become a nurse?

I was a medic in the Air Force and then a medical assistant working for Kaiser Permanente. I had a lot of exposure to nurses and working with them. I knew I wanted to work in the medical field. I liked the diversity of roles nurses hold, and the ability to move around and get different experiences. I decided to get my nursing degree.

Describe one of your most memorable moments as a nurse.

I had just started working on the Rapid Response Team. There was a patient down in the recovery area with low pressure and abdominal pain. I was concerned — and promptly confirmed — that the patient was bleeding internally. I rapidly mobilized physicians and team members to the bedside, where we called a massive transfusion protocol. By the time blood arrived, the patient had coded (moved to an emergency status). I was able to get the blood started quickly through several IVs to help the patient rapidly regain a blood pressure and stabilize.  

Afterward, the ICU doctor who led the code said, “You saved that woman’s life.” I said, “We all saved her life.” But the doctor insisted and that was a big moment for me, a “Wow, this is why I’m here” moment. 

How does your work contribute to Kaiser Permanente’s efforts to transform health and health care?

A lot of what we do in the Rapid Response Team involves teaching and education throughout the hospital, both in the moment and planned trainings. I’ve been on several committees and one of those is the Code Blue committee. I was able to create a separate Code Blue workgroup team about 3 years ago that focused on quality CPR using a feedback system and holding debriefs 100% of the time. We tracked the data and, within a year, we improved the Code Blue survival rate at our hospital by 18%. That felt like a big transformation. I was fortunate to speak to these improvements last year at Kaiser Permanente’s National Quality Conference in San Francisco, where other regions seemed eager to initiate similar initiatives.

How do you describe yourself?

Outside of work, I am a family-focused person and spend time with my wife and 2 kids. That’s a huge thing for me. I love to spend time outdoors hunting, fishing, and camping. 

To learn more about how our nurses are transforming care, visit Kaiser Permanente Nursing