You likely won’t find Kristy Capps, BSN, RN, at her desk or anywhere else within Providence St. Mary Medical Center for that matter. As the Community Nurse Case Manager of Population Health, she spends most of her time in the community caring for their most vulnerable populations.
Kristy meets her patients wherever they are—on the street, at a soup kitchen, or under a bridge. She brings a cup of coffee and a listening ear to learn about their needs. Her approach is
not one of sympathy but of optimism with a lens toward problem-solving. She believes patients often just need a couple of practical things—like a meal and shoes—to start on the road to healing. Some relationships develop quickly, while others may take years to form, and for patients to attain their goals and gain access to quality medical care.
“My patients battle chronic homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness, domestic abuse, multiple ACEs, which are like cement blocks on their backs,” said Kristy. “By showing
compassion at every encounter, we give it value, and ideally that leads to an authentic healing relationship.”
Kristy always had a passion and special ability to create non-judgmental safe spaces. In 2020, Kristy met “S,” a transgender patient with a long history of traumas, who was living in a van with their dog. She was very concerned about how sick “S” was with COVID. Kristy made arrangements with hospital security so “S” could keep their van in the parking lot, just so Kristy could regularly check vitals, and provide medicine, food and water. With the trust that formed, “S” recovered from COVID and with Kristy’s help now has stable housing and is working to open an LGBTQ safehouse in Walla Walla.
“By listening to ‘S,’ I learned about the magical person they are, and all they’ve overcome. That kind of strength is worth preserving,” said Kristy. “Whole person care is so effective when it is consistent and genuine.”
Kristy and her team also spearhead various health equity programs through their Mobile Outreach Clinic and Promotoras (community health workers), reaching the undocumented, and chronically underserved Hispanic population. They have been able to provide medical homes and free care to many in the community. Furthermore, Kristy collaborates with community partners to address social determinants of health, and also obtains wrap-around services for patients with a criminal history. This provides support that works toward their sobriety, addresses their legal issues, and increases success in several aspects of their lives.
Kristy was a co-founder and co-chair of the first Best Practice Council for the Providence St. Mary’s medical group, which was the first Best Practice Council for the medical groups in the entire Providence system. She serves the hospital as a High Reliability coach, and an Ethics Resource Specialist, and is a member of L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Arrest Diversion) work and policy groups, as a representative for Providence St. Mary Medical Center. During the pandemic, Kristy was a dedicated COVID nurse, administering vaccines in the community and working closely with epidemiologists and contract tracers from the county department of health.
“The shepherding of people through reassimilation back into housing or medical care remains a remarkable testament to Kristy’s work,” said a colleague. “She has been an inspiration to her colleagues by how she compassionately cares for the community around us.”
“Kristy has such an amazing heart and spirit and brings compassion and joy with a twist of her own unique spunk,” said a patient. “When I was at my lowest, Kristy made me feel I was worth something and helped save my life. She has become more like family to me.”