Vice President, Development, Park Shore Drug Inc.
By Vanessa Orr, South Florida Hospital News, for ACHE of South Florida
Kristen Palanza knows the importance of finding common ground between different groups of healthcare professionals.
As the vice president of development for Park Shore Drug Inc., a privately owned long-term care pharmacy, she straddles the line between internal pharmacy operations and external client affairs. As a board member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) for the past nine years, she also understands how interconnected every aspect of the healthcare field is.
“I love working with the team at the pharmacy while also serving as the outward-facing person for nurses and owners of long-term care facilities,” she explained. “My job is to make things better and easier for our clients, and in this role, I also serve as a patient advocate.
“The long-term facilities look out for their residents, many of whom can’t speak for themselves, and we do, too,” she continued, noting that many of the people they serve have intellectual or developmental disabilities. “That’s why reducing medication errors is one of our top priorities; everything we do is in the best interest of the residents.”
Palanza earned her undergraduate degree in speech pathology at the University of Florida and her master’s in Healthcare Administration from Florida Atlantic University.
“I always knew that I wanted to serve in a healthcare capacity but learned through a series of different internships that my skill set was much better suited for an administrative role—my goal is to eliminate obstacles for the internal team in order to enable our best external, patient-centric performance,” she said.
One example of this is a technician training program that Park Shore recently initiated for employees to ensure appropriate staffing ratios. “Finding the right people with appropriate certifications in this COVID environment is excruciating,” said Palanza of the positions that require staff to pay to attend classes to receive certification.
“We decided to eliminate that obstacle by registering our own technicians and offering our own educational program,” she added. “Once they graduate, they can file for technician license registration within the state of Florida and work within the full scope of their new license. It’s been extremely beneficial.”
Palanza joined ACHE while finishing her master’s degree and believes that it has helped her excel in her position.
“My ACHE membership is the most valuable thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “For me, it’s not about career advancement—it’s about learning. My ACHE colleagues make me a better leader.
“When I first joined ACHE, it was more hospital-centric/hospital-driven, so people wondered why a long-term care pharmacy would want to be a part,” she added. “But healthcare is more interconnected than it appears—every single facet, from hospitals to home care to acute care settings—depends on each other. So knowing about what other operations are doing is essential to us doing our best job.”
She added that being aware of what’s happening in the larger healthcare picture can help companies stay ahead of the pack. “One of the things that keeps us on our toes is the intensely competitive landscape in Florida; if you’re not on the cusp of technological advancement, customer service and best clinical practices, you stand to lose,” she said.
“We are constantly motivated to improve—there is no snooze button at Park Shore,” she added. “And working with other dynamic leaders helps keep us at our best.”