Karen Ondo: A Legacy of Healthcare - Cover

Karen Ondo: A Legacy of Healthcare

Karen Ondo has played a major role at KLAS over the past 18 years. Karen first showed up on my radar when she was the lab manager at Saint Peter's University Hospital. A few years later, Karen had become the CIO and the VP of information systems at the North Broward Hospital District. Not surprisingly, Karen was identified as one of healthcare IT’s most influential people by Healthcare Executives magazine. In 1999, she was South Florida IT Executive of the Year and served as the president of the South Florida Chapter of HIMSS.

In 2008, Karen was the HIMSS foundation chair and served on the HIMSS board—a huge role in the industry. She had many jobs in the industry as she worked her way up to CIO at North Broward. She was a consultant at Electronic Data Systems and at Healthcare Associates of Texas. She was a member of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a very famous foundation that does a lot of good in the industry.

Karen was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She was an instructor in the School of Nursing at Saint Peter's University. She was an instructor to medical technology interns at Rutgers University and a faculty member for the School of Health Information Science at the University of Victoria. She has had a lot of experience teaching people, and KLAS took advantage of that. She earned her bachelor's degree at Michigan State University and became a registered medical technologist.

Karen is also amazing at golf. She was a club champion at Inverrary Country Club. She won her flight at the Broward amateur golf tournament in 2014—not many years ago—and served on the board of the South Coast Society Club.

Karen has filled a lot of roles with KLAS. Back in 2001, Ralph Reyes and I had an opportunity to present at a Siemens executive meeting. That was our first KPI, so to speak. We invited Karen to fly up from Florida to help us, and she saved our bacon. Ralph and I showed her what we were going to present, and she said, “This is awful.” She worked on the presentation for most of the night while Ralph and I slept. She helped us organize our thoughts and put the presentation together, and it went really well.

Later that year, we presented an offer to her to join the company. She did so and has been with KLAS for the last 18 years. She started off as a report writer and directed our KPI efforts to a large extent. She was our investor relations director when we did have insights that were needed from the investment community. She was and still is a report quality director, and she was a KLAS industry professor and trainer. She was a researcher, an analyst, and a project manager, and she has always been a senior VP and has always been coaching the executive team. And quite frankly, she is KLAS’ best golfer. It is an honor to recognize Karen.

The following are thoughts and memories from some KLAS executives who have worked with Karen.

From Jason Hess

When I joined KLAS, my interview with Karen was the hardest. She asked me some very tough questions. After that, I knew that KLAS would not be a typical company.

I have always appreciated Karen’s mental rigor and willingness to stay up really late to ensure that we are dialed in on our presentations. I appreciate Karen so much and the work she is still doing. Karen helps ensure KLAS’ materials are clear and that we are abiding by our own principles.

From Jared Peterson

I have known Karen for 20 years. I consider her a great friend and mentor. Over the years, she has had many great insights. It has been great to get to know her. I have appreciated Karen’s interest in my family; she has always taken time to ask how things are going.

From Taylor Davis

I came into KLAS right out of college, and I was grateful for how Karen mentored me in many ways. When I first came to KLAS, Karen was doing trainings with samurai swords and helping us learn to be a more exact, responsible, and accountable company with a stronger culture. Karen has always lived up to those principles.

I've appreciated working with Karen; she always hits the deadlines that she says she will hit. She has always performed with high quality and has always gone the full mile.

I am a much better person because of the time that I have spent with Karen and the example that she has set.

From Mike Smith

As soon as I started talking to Karen, I realized that I would really enjoy working with her. It has been wonderful to work with someone who also worked at Electronic Data Systems; it was great to have that connection. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Karen.

Her feedback and insights have been wonderful. I look to Karen as a mentor and certainly as a good friend. She has played an incredibly important role in helping shape the way I have looked at things and certainly how I have approached research.

From Mark Allphin

It has been great working with Karen over the years. I have loved collaborating with her on reports. And it has always been fun to hop on a call and get Karen’s perspective. Her perspective has often been way better than my own. Karen has helped make KLAS even more impactful in the industry.

From Adam Gale

Working with Karen been a great ride with lots of fun memories.

I have one memory from years ago: We were working on a report that had all kinds of comments in it. Karen came to me with an edit for a comment on page 608—way in the back of the report. I asked Karen why she was worried about a comment so far back in the report; I didn’t think anyone would ever read it. And Karen asked, “So you want people to find a crummy comment?” Karen has always helped KLAS be better by having quality data and reports.

A Big Thank You

There's no way KLAS would be nearly as successful without Karen. I appreciate Karen’s friendship, her ongoing help today, and especially the help she has given to KLAS in the past.