Kernizan joins Children’s as new COO

Kernizan joins Children’s as new COO


Expanding the vision of Children’s of Mississippi – to help all Mississippi children reach their full potential – is the goal of Chief Operations Officer Lorna Kernizan of Ridgeland, who joined the pediatric organization of the University of Mississippi Medical Center last month.

“As we seek opportunities to expand and touch every child in the state, our ability to extend our reach to other areas in our community will be front and center to my goals,” she said. “Facilitating the efforts of our network of caregivers who can meet their needs, where they are, will be key. Providing this guidance and direction to the next level of care so they can have access to this highly specialized health care facility for children, no matter where they are in this state. Children’s of Mississippi will continue to impact and support families for many years to come.”

Kernizan has more than 25 years of experience in health care, serving in executive level positions including her most recent position as COO at Palms West Hospital, an inpatient acute care and children’s hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida. She was also the COO of Aventura Hospital and Medical Center in Aventura, Florida, and the administrator with Miami Lakes Surgery Center in Miami Lakes, Florida.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations and political science from Florida International University in Miami and an MBA in finance and health care administration from the University of Miami. She is also board-certified in health care management by the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Kernizan was drawn to health care by seeing the impact her mother made during her nursing career.

“My mother, now retired, had been in the nursing profession since 1963,” Kernizan said. “I had grown up listening to stories of patients she took care of throughout her career. I often say, my mom was born to be a nurse. It is from her example that I found I also wanted to be able to not only have an impact on the lives of patients but to also assist those who provide direct and indirect patient care. My goal is to support the unsung heroes in health care, just like my mom, in my own quiet but fulfilling way.”

In her new role, Kernizan will be a part of the executive team supporting Children’s of Mississippi by:

Overseeing pediatric satellite operations throughout the state,

Working collaboratively with University Physicians, the chair of the Department of Pediatrics and physician leaders,

Directing the day-to-day operations of many outpatient services to meet the needs of providers, staff and patients,

Driving complex project and program-based initiatives,

Partnering with other executives to lead the clinical programming and facility development of clinical services, and

Developing and implementing a range of clinical programs for all care settings.

“The best part of my job is to be a part of the decision-making process to expand, grow and develop additional services to the benefit of our patients, visitors and team members in the communities we serve,” she said. “I enjoy strategic planning and creating opportunities to access and improve facilities and services through space planning and development for the ease and enjoyment of our caregivers and their patients.”

The Children’s of Mississippi team’s spirit made UMMC Kernizan’s destination.

“Taking care of children is a high calling,” she said. “It takes a special person, whether you are delivering the care directly or taking care of the caregivers so they can provide great care themselves. I felt the energy, excitement and engagement of every team member during my initial visits and the commitment to the mission and vision. I felt the love every team member has for not only Children’s but for the love of this beautiful state, and this love intrigued me.”

Children’s of Mississippi’s outpatient care in the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower, Eli Manning Clinics for Children and the Batson Kids Clinic on the UMMC campus and at clinics around the state are bringing care closer to home for patients and their families. Kernizan’s expertise will help improve patients’ experiences and promote collaboration among the outpatient health care team, said Children’s of Mississippi CEO Guy Giesecke.

“Our patients and their families will be the ultimate beneficiaries of Lorna’s leadership,” he said. “Her years of experience as a hospital executive will improve clinical collaborations and enhance the care we provide.”

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