CRTKL Celebrates National Nurses’ Day

Clare Sausen May 6, 2021

A Conversation with Dr. Velma Jackman, Associate Principal and Amy Mizell, Senior Associate on the importance of healthcare staff in collaboration with UC Davis Health.

Tell me a bit about our recent work with the UC Davis Health system.

Velma Jackman: UC Davis Health is a healthcare system in the Sacramento area affiliated with UC Davis. UC Davis Health provides both acute care and high-level acute care including primary and specialty care. Recently, we helped them open four outpatient facilities where they provide services from general practitioners and checkups through specialty for both pediatric and adult services.

Our transition team worked with various UC Davis Health teams to move new and existing services on the main campus and around Sacramento to various sites off-campus. We also helped them transition several of their specialty clinics into these new facilities, and we moved one of their clinics from an older facility to a new one. One of the facilities we supported with our transition and activation services was almost entirely support services, so we helped them plan the transition of these services into this off-campus location.

What were some of the greatest challenges you faced in navigating this project during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic?

VJ: Since California was in lockdown, the entire team was tasked with building and supporting COVID-19 facility responses such as testing and vaccine clinics at the same time they were building and supporting the moves into new facilities. There were obviously massive restrictions in terms of an on-site presence to support both resources and staff for COVID, so we had to move our transition and activation planning efforts entirely online.

The activation remained all-encompassing— we acted as strategic consultants on these projects, so we gave their team the tools and techniques and oversight on how to transition and activate while remaining remote. It’s also our responsibility to ensure we stay on schedule—which, in healthcare, can be challenging due to competing priorities, especially during a pandemic. We had to employ our “suspicious mom technique”— “have you done this yet? Do you know which of these tasks comes first?” We’re coming from a good place, but our questions are loaded [laughs].

Amy Mizell: Luckily, clinicians are an incredibly resilient group—they’re used to having to make changes and accommodate impossible situations on the fly. And so are we!

VJ: Besides protocols like social distancing and capacity, vendors struggled with supply chain issues during the pandemic which impeded our team’s ability to deliver equipment. But our clients and we had a mantra: we’re going to make it work—what are we going to do? Since OneEQ was also helping with equipment procurement it was easy for us to turn to them to help us on the equipment side to develop contingency plans.

AM: Like Velma said, since we’re not able to be on-site and lay our eyes on everything, we acted as the “suspicious mom,” but we had full faith and trust in the team which made it all possible.

VJ: We also took on a stronger role educationally – we taught the team how to use these new tools we were introducing while navigating all the extra challenges.

How did you maintain positive morale despite the difficulties?

VJ: We had a common goal of making this work no matter what. With all of the team members we worked with, we never heard “can’t, don’t, or won’t.” We heard “this is what we can do, this is what it will take.” We were all almost being angrily positive as a determination to make this happen no matter what. As a team, I think we were tired of hearing all the things we were told we couldn’t do—especially during COVID-19.

What was your proudest moment during this project?

VJ:  I think we’re all still amazed at our ability to take the entire activation online unexpectedly. The teams in the clinics were especially resilient—they were able to take any new tool we gave them and run with it completely.

AM: The clinician teams were hungry for new information and new processes. They were excited to get their hands on the latest and greatest.

VJ: I’m especially amazed at the ease of collaboration between ourselves and the teams– when we had to shift directions, we were in quick agreement on what it would be and how we’d approach it.

Tell me a bit more about the clinician teams you worked with.

VJ: When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, there was a lot of emphasis put on hospitals and acute care. The people we were working with were in a clinic setting—they had to deal with this acute crisis as well as daily health care for all their patients. In my opinion, they were the forgotten bunch and had to work under the wave. They kept primary care going as usual in a time where nothing else was normal.

We were lucky to work with them even longer than usual this time—for two of our clinics, we continued all the way to opening day and beyond.. In a more typical setting, our work is done about six weeks before and we leave the team to work with what we had given them.  This time with all the complications and last-minute oddities, they asked us to stay until the very end. It was especially satisfying to be in the trenches with them and celebrate the final success of opening as planned.

AM: While there were plenty of fires to put out thanks to the pandemic, a large number of people still needed daily health care. Diabetics need to go to the clinic and have their insulin tested, for example. I think we really lost sight of that as a culture. They were taking care of people in outpatient settings and maintaining clinics when all the attention and resources were focused on acute and hospital care. The team showed incredible resilience to pull it all together.

The IT departments, especially, were pulled in every direction. One IT project manager and I had many strategizing phone calls trying to look at the problem from different angles. She had to run installation services to all four of these clinics as well as other providers in the UC Davis system. The operational leaders were often given a list of priorities that seemed to change four times a day—oh, and they need to keep everyone in their care safe and well at the same time.

Though many of us were lucky to work from home, there was still a lot of in-person patient care going on. Our clinical partners had both virtual and in-person services available as part of their regular book of business. Add on to that the staffing challenges due to COVID from both sickness and personal trauma, and finally, add on to THAT opening four new clinics. My jaw dropped when I heard what they were dealing with while still smiling.


Dr. Jackman is a seasoned operational leader with over 25 years of experience in adult education, project management, healthcare technology, and supply chain operations. Her passion is helping clients like Sutter CPMC, Adventist Health White Oak Medical Center, and UC Davis address change through her expertise in the human side of transition, including organization strategy, healthcare foresight, information technology, process engineering, project management, and construction experience. Velma specializes in orchestrating successful operational transitions for hospitals, services lines, and departments inclusive of dual operations, facility education, department activation and safe patient transfers.

Amy Mizell PMP, CLSSGB, LEED Green Associate, RRT

Amy Mizell is a Project Management Professional (PMP) with over fifteen years of experience in healthcare operational readiness activation and transition planning and medical equipment planning. Her primary clinical background as a Registered Respiratory Therapist with more than 12 years of experience in acute, rehabilitative and trauma care lends her a unique user perspective of the project end result. This perspective optimizes her medical equipment planning experiences to successfully integrate healthcare transition planning and building activation. She has diverse experience in projects ranging from small renovations to complete Greenfield facilities while simultaneously managing multiple healthcare construction projects.


Author Spotlight

Clare Sausen
Clare Sausen is a Content Writer for CallisonRTKL. Based in Washington, D.C., she leverages her personal and professional experience in journalism, radio, and nonprofit communication to serve as a valuable member of the global firmwide team. Since attaining her Bachelor of Arts degree from George Washington University in Communication and American Studies, she has honed her craft of architectural storytelling across multiple platforms.