Kate Walsh said her original career aspiration was to be Mayor of the City of Boston. That job was most recently held by Marty Walsh – no relation. “It must come with the ‘Walsh’ gene,” she joked during MHA’s latest Executive Insights episode.
But instead of city politics, Walsh’s career path turned to healthcare. She now holds the “corner office” at Boston Medical Center, as the institution’s president & CEO. It’s a field she came across almost by chance as a young college student during what was a turbulent time for the city, but it didn’t take her long to fall in love with it.
Fast forward to Spring 2021: Walsh is currently focused on addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitance and enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion at BMC. Half the medical center’s patients are Black or Latinx.
“[COVID-19] hit the people we serve in such a more dramatic way that it made us start to step back and say ‘what else is it that we need to do?,’” reflected Walsh. She added that her team has become even more conscious of not just the health equity challenges that affect patients outside of the organization, but also the internal policies that can impact access to care.
BMC and its staff also recently became social media sensations for this video, which epitomized the excitement as the first COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare workers arrived in late 2020.
”It really does bring me joy every time I see it, and I’ve seen it a bazillion times…I think it tapped into the joy we all feel about the promise of these vaccines,” Walsh reflected. “I felt like a Kardashian because my phone was blowing up.”
Looking ahead to a new normal, Walsh believes that telehealth will be a “gamechanger” for underserved populations. “The only challenge is to make sure we get it right.”