Patient Safety Institute

Karin Dufault, SP, PhD, RN

Karin Dufault, S.P., Ph.D, a member of Sisters of Providence religious community, is Vice President, Mission Leadership for Providence Health System and in October, she will begin a new position as Executive Director of Supportive Care of the Dying: A Coalition for Compassionate Care, headquartered in Portland, Oregon.  Also, in early June, she assumed the role of Chair of the Board for the Catholic Health Association (CHA).

She most recently served as full time Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Providence Health System from 1991 to 2002, and from April 1996 -1997 also served as Acting President and CEO.  Providence Health System is a not-for-profit organization extending across a four-state area – from Alaska through Washington, Oregon, and into Southern California. Providence Health System operates 17 acute care hospitals (181,800 admissions), 20 long-term care facilities (1741 beds), 2 PACE programs, and 20 low-income supportive housing and assisted living facilities (1050 units). The System operates comprehensive homecare, hospice and palliative care services, primary care clinics, as well as educational facilities. Providence also sponsors health plans covering more than 850,000 members and other eligible enrollees in Oregon and Southwest Washington. In 2004, almost 34,000 people were employed by Providence Health System.

In addition, Sr. Karin currently chairs the CHA Executive Committee and President/CEO Search Committee (St. Louis).  She also serves on the Boards of the US Catholic China Bureau; the Patient Safety Institute; the newly established Ministry Leadership Center (West Coast Catholic Collaborative), and the Washington Health Foundation (Seattle).

Sr. Karin’s former board service includes service on the Catholic Health Initiatives Board of Stewardship Trustees (Denver); officer positions of the Washington State Hospital Association, service as Chair in 1996 and as a director with the Boards for Summit Medical Center (Oakland) and Providence Services (Spokane).  She is a member of the Seattle University School of Nursing Advisory Board; University of Washington Master of Health Administration Advisory Committee, a member of the Health Status and Health Systems Project Advisory Panel of King County, WA and the Advisory Board of GOVERNANCE 100. She is a past member of CHA’s Nominating Committee and Diversity Committee, and served on their Bylaws/Membership Committee.  She chaired the CHA Systems Task Force and was a member of the National New Covenant Steering Committee. She also served on the American Nurses Association Committee on Ethics and Cabinet on Nursing Services. 

In addition to professional affiliations, she has served in the past as a board member and officer of the Yakima Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Oregon Leukemia Association, the Oregon Oncology Nursing Society, and chaired the Northwest Hospice Coalition. She has an honorary membership in the Rotary Club of Yakima, WA and is a Paul Harris Fellow.

Sister Karin served as Administrator of St. Elizabeth Medical Center (now known as Providence Yakima Medical Center) in Yakima from 1987 to mid-1991.  Prior to this, she was Assistant Administrator for Patient Care Services at Providence Medical Center in Portland and also responsible for the oncology, and gerontology program development including the hospice services.  Before assuming the Nurse Executive role, she served as Clinical Specialist and Nurse Researcher at Providence Portland after completing graduate school. In earlier years, she served in a variety of nursing roles throughout the Providence Healthcare System.  She also served as Nursing Practice Consultant for the Oregon State Board of Nursing for two years.

Sister Karin’s undergraduate degrees in social science (B.A) and in nursing (B.S.N.) are from Seattle University, Seattle, Washington.  She earned a Master’s Degree in Medical/Surgical Nursing (M.S.N.: oncology focus) and a doctorate (Ph.D.: gerontology focus) from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. Her dissertation, titled, Hope and Elderly Cancer Patients, involved a participant observation study in which she cared for 35 advanced cancer patients as a clinical nurse specialist until their death over a two year period. She completed the Fellows Program in Management for Nurse Executives at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania in 1985.

Sister Karin has presented lectures and workshops on a national basis on such topics as hope, compassionate care for the dying and bereaved, care of elders, pain management, cancer care, nursing and healthcare ethics, issues surrounding healthcare access, healthcare reform, healthcare governance, nursing research, mission and values in health care, and transformational leadership.  She has published articles on similar topics.

Sister Karin has been the recipient of numerous awards and citations.  The most recent of which were an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from the University of Portland (Oregon) (2005), the Seattle University Outstanding Alumni Award (2002), the Case Western Reserve University Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing 1995 Professional Achievement Award, the Yakima Valley Community College Distinguished Service Award (1991), Seattle University School of Nursing Outstanding Alumni Award (1991), and the Yakima YWCA Woman of Achievement in Business Award (1989).