A year at Stanford Children's Health

Paul King, CEO, Packard Children's and Stanford Children's Health; 


An interview with Paul King

Paul King, president and CEO of Stanford Children’s Health, celebrated his one-year anniversary with the organization in late January 2020. He’s led a distinguished career of over 30 years in health care leadership at several top academic medical centers. Reflecting on his first year at Stanford, King talks about the highlights as well as the opportunities that lie ahead for the growing organization

What were some top achievements at Stanford Children’s Health?

It’s incredible what has been accomplished at Stanford Children’s Health. One achievement that we are most proud of is earning Magnet recognition for nursing excellence. This tremendous accomplishment reflects our commitment to delivering the highest quality of care to our patients and their families. We also successfully negotiated a new three-year agreement with our nurses’ union.

Additionally, at the end of 2019 we opened new care units in Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. The fifth floor is now the inpatient care unit for our Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases. The space is designed to provide optimal care and support for this patient population, allowing our physicians and researchers to advance the work they are doing in specialties like stem cell transplantation and gene therapy. We also opened a new outpatient clinic on the first floor — part of the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center — which focuses on cardiac care, neurodiagnostics and pulmonary diagnostics.

Of course, these major undertakings were planned long before I arrived, so my role was to ensure that the leaders involved felt supported to meet their benchmarks and fulfill the goals.

I am also struck by the many ways the Stanford community is collaborating to innovate and improve how we deliver care and how we partner to improve health in our community. Here in Silicon Valley, we are at the epicenter of innovation and the forefront of shaping precision health, working toward a goal of preventing and curing diseases.

We added three new members to our executive team: Rick Majzun, our chief operating officer; Patrick Idemoto, our chief strategy officer; and Marcie Atchison, our chief human resources officer.

What are you most encouraged by?

I am encouraged by the opportunity for enhancing our collaboration with the adult hospital and the School of Medicine. I work closely with my colleagues David Entwistle (president and CEO of Stanford Health Care) and Lloyd Minor, MD (dean of the School of Medicine), to address mutual concerns and to facilitate our shared goals for advancing research and clinical care.

In Stanford Children’s Health’s 30 years of operation, we’ve experienced rapid growth of our reach in the Bay Area and beyond through our network of over 65 clinics and hospital partnerships.

A key focus is how we responsibly leverage digital health technologies like telehealth to improve access for our patient families and to expand the ways our providers can deliver care. The use of tools like telehealth by our patient families indicates that they have a desire for these options to manage their health care and communicate with their care teams.

What is the greatest opportunity for improvement in health care for children?

Those of us in pediatric health care can convince our state legislators and regulators to protect kids no matter what form health care reform takes. California has led the way with a wide range of programs to make sure that most children have some form of coverage. Although these programs do not cover the total cost of care, they do provide some level of financial support to provide access that otherwise would not be there.

Medicaid provides an infrastructure that supports all children, not just the underserved and poor. That is a key message that resonates whenever we get in front of our legislators: The unraveling of the public safety net can lead to the unraveling of the entire health care system.

The ACE Kids Act was passed by Congress and signed by the president this year. Not every region has all the pediatric subspecialties available to care for kids with complex health conditions. This legislation makes it easier for children covered by Medicaid to move across state lines to get the right care with the right provider at the right time.

What do you think of the Bay Area?

Well, you can’t beat the weather, especially coming from Michigan! What I enjoy most about the Bay Area is its vibrancy. There is an energy level here that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. I attribute that to the innovation that is driven by the tech industry and fostered by the venture capital community. There is also so much beauty and charm within arm’s reach.

The magic of serving a mission to care for children and expectant mothers is that it brings out the very best in people. And here, where there is truly limitless potential, I can’t imagine a more exciting place to be.