Each week in 2019, we're highlighting someone in the College of Public Health—students, alumni, researchers and beyond—for a feature we're calling Public Health in Focus. Click the photo for a portrait of Kesa Bond, assistant professor of instruction in the Department of Health Services Administration and Policy and executive director of Christ Community Church, or read on for the full interview.
What do you do in your role as executive director at Christ Community Church?
I started out volunteering on the administrative side in 2001, and I was asked to begin serving as executive director in 2007. At the time, I helped oversee the day-to-day operations remotely, so I’ve always had a full-time job and the service that I do at the church is on a voluntary basis. Fast forward to 2019, and thanks to technology my role has evolved where we have a lot of systems that are automated.
Now I’m more on the leadership side of helping to keep our large volunteer base organized. I also help with documentation related to marriage licenses, contracts, and compliance for things like our 501(c)(3) status. It’s very organizational systems based, putting a system in place and then making sure that the system stays polished. Technology is an amazing thing, and I’m able to use many of the skills that I learned as an undergrad in HIM as the executive director, be it policy, procedures, documenting, or keeping track of data. All of those tools I learned I’m applying now as executive director.
How have you enjoyed serving in that position?
I would not still be in this role if it wasn’t something that I enjoyed. I also, in a way, serve as a go-between for our lead pastor and our congregation, maintaining the “face of the church” and making sure that we have a loving environment. That’s something that we’re known for: A lot of people who walk through our doors come in very hurt, very broken, and it’s our job to make individuals feel welcome and make them feel at home, let them know that they can be themselves, they can put their hair down, they can come in any way that they want. And I think they understand that once they see us. And then, over time, we’re able to help them. They feel more open to share with us whatever issue, problem, or past hurt they may have experienced.
How do you see health information management fitting into the larger field of public health?
It was exciting for me when we became the College of Public Health, and I always saw HIM through a public health lens. For example, my now 10-year-old daughter was diagnosed at four months of age as having a high propensity of becoming obese. It was the documentation by her pediatrician that flagged that there was a problem. They took her height, her weight, and her head circumference and they input that into the electronic health record and, over a number of weeks, they were able to determine that she was on the wrong trajectory; she was growing too quickly for her age. So I see the electronic health record and childhood obesity prevention and basically prevention for any disparity, any disease, as being right there together.
You’re pursuing a PhD in Organizational Development. What would you like to do with that degree?
Research shows that physicians are already swamped. They do not have enough hours in their day to provide one-on-one counseling and training to parents. So I see myself as being that individual who can fill in those gaps, not to preach to a parent, not to beat them over the head with facts and figures, but more so to walk alongside them...I would like to build a relationship and a rapport with parents and be able to give them some coaching.
What aspects of your field do you stress to your students?
One thing that I always stress to my HIM students is that the opportunities in are endless. We used to be very reactive in healthcare, but now we’re trying to be proactive. HIM is going to play an important role in the future; we can tell from records and data who is at risk for cardiovascular disease or diabetes or hypertension. I see health information management playing a key role in aiding physicians in being able to provide the best care, the best individualized and personalized care. I see us in helping with a data-driven, patient-centered model, where we put the patient first. What is the data telling us, and based off of the data, how can we respond? How can we take action to prevent negative outcomes we see in the future?
Kesa Bond received her Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management from the College of Public Health. In addition to her role as executive director of Christ Community Church of Philadelphia, she is an assistant professor of instruction in the Department of Health Services Administration and Policy. Check out all of the Public Health in Focus portraits so far.