Cassandra Russo is the new Manager of Quality and Population Health at Mee Memorial Healthcare System. (Contributed)

KING CITY — For Cassandra “Cassie” Russo, the new Manager of Quality and Population Health at Mee Memorial Healthcare System, her work goals are all about efficiency and quality care for her patients.

Russo started in January.

“It feels a bit like coming back,” she says, referring not only to her first stint at Mee Memorial from 2014-15 as a labor and delivery nurse, but also coming back to King City. “King City is my hometown, I grew up here, went so school here.”

After obtaining an associate’s degree in nursing from Monterey Peninsula College in 2013, Russo spent the first 12 years of her career (besides the one year at Mee) mostly in small rural health clinics in South Monterey County, including Eden Valley Care Center in Soledad and Soledad Medical Clinic, the last five years there as Director of Clinical Operations before coming to Mee Memorial.

She admits going from small rural clinics with a small staff to a larger regional hospital was quite an adjustment for her, but not for the reasons one might think.

“I do think it’s different, I wish we had the resources they have here at Mee Memorial, such as case management, social workers, etc. There’s an incredible team here,” she says. “I’m still doing a similar role, but now I can focus on quality of care, which allows me to connect more with people, I’m more connected to patient care.”

The Manager of Quality and Population Health position is a newly created position at Mee Memorial, and Russo is its first manager and is just getting her feet wet, but she’s absolutely clear about her objectives for the department.

“It’s a clinical role, to improve how the work flows in clinical situations, but basically it’s finding ways to be more efficient, to improve care, to improve quality of care, working with people,” she says, when asked how she would characterize the position. “My role is to ask, ‘How do we get better?’ The goal is to improve people’s health and care throughout the whole health care system. It’s all about efficiency. And it’s what I love to do — to make sure more patients are happy.”

Her official hospital bio says her position “is to ensure that all patients are treated equally and given the same access to healthcare.” And her primary purpose “is to improve the health outcomes of a group… and eliminate barriers to care.”

She says that with a larger staff at Mee, with more resources, she can accomplish more to fulfill those goals. 

“It’s a broadening of our scope. With the staff helping, we’re helping more people. At the clinic I could help five to six people a day, here I can help 200 to 300 a day,” she says. “The big picture is that we can offer a high quality of care for more people.”

A mother of two children, Russo obtained her bachelor’s degree in nursing online from West Coast University of Los Angeles in 2018, which allowed her to get her degree and care for her children at the same time. She then got her public health nurse certification in the fall of that year.

When asked, even after only a few months on the job, whether she’s gaining ground and accomplishing some of her goals, she was quick to answer.

“I really do feel like I’m accomplishing things,” she says. “I’d like to grow it into something big and powerful, but it takes time. There’s the planting of the seed, watering it and letting it grow. But I’m very patient and I feel like I’m making a difference. With time it will be a beautiful thing.”

And to extend the seed-and-plant metaphor, she sees an end result: “I hope it will be a fully ripe avocado tree.”

With that kind of confidence and motivation, check back with her in a year for baskets of beautiful green avocados.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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