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  • Erin Ongena

From Hospital Bed to Healthcare Leader: A Personal Journey in Patient-Centered Practice

The Patient Experience is a deeply personal motivator that led me to pursue a career in Transition and Activation Planning.


My childhood was spent in a pediatric hospital battling severe asthma and numerous allergies. From the age of four, these allergies triggered frequent asthma attacks, often requiring hospitalization. Additionally, I faced pneumonia 11 times and double pneumonia twice within just four years. One vivid memory that stands out is of a technician struggling to find a vein in my tiny arm for an IV. After ten attempts, they called in an experienced nurse for assistance, but not before generously compensating me with $5. (In today's pediatric practice, three attempts are typically the limit before involving an experienced clinician.)


Balancing life between hospital walls and the comfort of home was a surreal experience. Yet, even from my hospital bed, I remained immersed in textbooks and sketched scenes I saw in the hospital. My fascination with science and biology only intensified through school and college. When the opportunity arose to start my own firm, I gravitated towards healthcare, focusing on the niche market of operational planning and activating new hospitals. Every day my team and I get to help patients by helping staff manage through the complexity of opening new facilities—so they can stay focused on their roles as patient caregivers and support providers.


This picture that my father took with my siblings shows me at seven years old. I have dark circles under my eyes from just leaving the hospital, but I was happy to be outside. A year after this photo, my doctors found better medicines to treat me, and we moved to a warmer climate. I happily no longer endured long stints in the hospital as a patient.

Kyrsten Johnson (middle), age 7, sitting on the hood of her father's restored Chevy Corvette.

Kyrsten Johnson (middle), age 7, sitting on the hood of her father's restored Chevy Corvette.

At HBS, we are deeply committed to enhancing the patient experience by aiding healthcare staff and leadership in managing safe openings in their newly constructed environments. With a team of clinicians who understand firsthand the importance of a positive patient experience, we ensure that holistic healing remains at the forefront of every endeavor.

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