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Nursing giant recognized for life’s work

The former Kaiser Permanente leader received the prestigious DAISY award with colleagues by her side. Pictured, Marilyn Chow at home in San Francisco with her new Healer’s Touch sculpture presented to DAISY lifetime achievement recipients. The sculpture is carved by artists in Zimbabwe.

Know thyself. Embrace change. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.

“Those are the messages I gave to myself over the years and during my time at Kaiser Permanente,” said Marilyn Chow, PhD, RN, FAAN, who recently was presented a DAISY Lifetime Achievement Award in a virtual format with former Kaiser Permanente colleagues in attendance. “When I think about my life, I would say the key insights are learning, growing, changing, and wanting to make a difference.”

Chow, now 75, and living in San Francisco with her husband John, retired from Kaiser Permanente in 2016 as vice president of National Patient Care Services and Innovation after joining Kaiser Permanente in 2000. Her 46-year career began as a hospital nurse in 1970 at the University of California San Francisco.

A lifetime of devotion

The award recognizes nurses who have devoted their life’s work to the compassionate care of others and their dedication to nursing through active mentoring, role modeling, advocating for their patients, and promoting the positive image of nursing.

“It’s so special to be honored in this way,” Chow said during the presentation. “But what makes me feel even more special is to know what we were able to do in terms of patient safety, in terms of quality, all the improvements that we made, and we were able to document it with research.”

The positions she held over the years in nursing are way too numerous to mention in detail, but some of them include: University of California faculty member, pediatric nurse practitioner textbook author, nursing practice director at the California Nurses Association, interim dean of Samuel Merritt College in Oakland, vice president of patient care services at Summit Medical, president of the San Francisco Human Services Commission, vice president of the Kaiser Permanente California Division of Patient Care Services, and her final position in the national office of Kaiser Permanente’s Patient Care Services.

Opening doors

“I always kept in mind that if one door closes, another opens, so you just have to be open,” said Chow.

Some of the highlights of Chow’s career include helping write a justification for creation of the Kaiser Permanente Scholars Academy, securing funding for HIV and AIDS train the trainer program while at the California Nurses Association, creating nursing quality measures for the American Nurses Association, working on Kaiser Permanente’s national electronic health record rollout, and inspiring and helping develop Kaiser Permanente’s Garfield Innovation Center in San Leandro, California.

“So many of us are deeply grateful Marilyn is receiving this award, both on a personal level and a professional level,” said Jim D’Alfonso, DNP, RN, Kaiser Permanente executive director, professional excellence for Patient Care Services and the Kaiser Permanente Scholars Academy. “We’re putting our virtual arms around you right now, Marilyn, and hugging you and thanking you for all your service and support.”



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