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From PC Technician to Epic Informaticist Heather Kenagy Reflects on Rewarding Job, Interactions

Leaving a job with a Fortune 500 company to join Samaritan Health Services two decades ago, Heather Kenagy has benefited from educational opportunity and career advancement during her tenure with the nonprofit health system.

Heather recalled that after her initial interview 20 years ago, she was convinced she wanted to join Samaritan when she learned that “it was focused not on what the stock was doing or what the investors wanted to see for returns, but it was actually focused on the needs of our community. I knew that was exactly what I wanted to be doing,” she said.

When she was first hired, she had an associate degree in accounting. Since then, she has experienced a variety of positions while receiving tuition support to earn a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree in health informatics.

“One of the things I value most about my experience as a Samaritan employee is how much Samaritan has invested in my education, to the point of being almost invaluable,” Kenagy said.

“I obtained my master’s degree in 2020. It was very strange during the whole COVID pandemic that I was remote learning, working full time, staffing coronavirus vaccination clinics by providing technical support – yet I was still able to obtain my master’s degree,” she said. “That opened even more doors for me for advancement within Samaritan. It really is wonderful, absolutely wonderful.”

Kenagy began her Samaritan career as a PC technician, providing in-person support to computer users. From there she transferred to project management and oversaw a couple of large projects. After a year, she realized she missed the technical side so she returned to Information Services as a service desk team lead, implementing solutions for users through training and documentation.

“And then from there I moved on to the Epic team,” she said. Epic is Samaritan’s interactive electronic medical record that allows providers to document visits with patients and outline all of the care they are receiving.

“Our providers use it in a number of ways. It can be an interactive system so it can help flag, say, drug interactions or treatment protocols. And this is all done by programming in the background by someone like me,” she said.

Along with her work on Epic, Kenagy is the primary Samaritan administrator for MyChart – the online patient portal system where patients can see their personal information that is stored in Epic and to communicate with their providers. Kenagy builds, develops and updates MyChart based on new releases and patient feedback.

“I feel very fortunate that my job allows me to interact with patients,” she said. “Every day I have dozens of messages from patients asking everything from ‘Where can I find my COVID vaccine lot number?’ to ‘How do I change my preferred pharmacy?’ to all sorts of technical questions.

“I work with patients through issues they are having or train them on where they can find certain things in their medical record. I take their feedback and incorporate it into making the patient portal better. That is my absolute favorite part of my job.”

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