Kaiser Santa Rosa mental health and wellness chief Emily Porch wins North Bay Forty Under 40 award

Emily Porch, M.D.

Age: 36

Chief of the Mental Health and Wellness Department, Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center

401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa 95403


Read other profiles of this year's winners.

Responsibilities with your company: I oversee and have responsibility for the delivery of outpatient and inpatient mental health services and addiction medicine services at Kaiser Permanente, Santa Rosa.

I have direct oversight of up to nineteen adult and child psychiatrists and lead a department of ninety psychotherapists, psychotherapy and administrative managers, and support staff. I have responsibilities to ensure the department and hospital are meeting and exceeding regulatory and community standards for access to mental health care, quality, patient care experience, and provider satisfaction.

I have reporting responsibilities to our local hospital and outpatient leadership, as well as to Regional Kaiser-Permanente Mental Health. I additionally collaborate and coordinate with Sonoma County Mental Health Leadership and local inpatient hospitals that are affiliated with Kaiser-Permanente.

In 25 words or less, how do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty under 40 professional?

I emphasize collaboration, integrity and creativity in my department, as we look to enhance and improve mental health services for our members.

Years with company: 4

Length of time in current position: 1

Number of companywide employees: 200,000

Number who that report to you: 19

Greatest professional accomplishment: My greatest feeling of accomplishment comes when a patient or patient's family feels satisfied and truly helped after receiving care in our department.

Greatest professional challenge: Our country has a national shortage of trained mental health providers. My greatest challenge is to help define local mental health care delivery models that meet the needs for an extremely broad spectrum of symptoms, while maintaining provider career satisfaction and supporting a positive work environment.

Best advice received: When I first became chief, a fellow chief said to me, “You now have the ability to influence and improve care for thousands of people in our community; this is a privilege and an honor that should never be taken for granted.”

Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: The most defining event in my professional life in the past 12 months was leading my department during the 2019 Sonoma County fires and evacuations.

Though our hospital was evacuated, our leadership was committed to offering primary care and mental health care services to our patients during this time. Through this experience, I learned a great deal about myself, my department, and our organization's commitment to our patients.

What steps is your company taking to sustain your organization and morale in the current economy?

Kaiser Permanente is committed to creating exceptional care experiences for members, maintaining operational excellence with a focus on quality and evidence-based outcomes, and sustaining providers' sense of joy and meaning in their careers. There are numerous local and regional projects that are targeting each of these areas, so that we can continue to be the most trusted name in health care.

Next professional goal: My goals for this year are to solidify collaborative efforts across our Santa Rosa facility so that our members can experience exceptional mental health care throughout our system. I also want to focus on recruiting and retaining our exceptional providers.

Education: Bachelor of Science degree with distinction in research, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Doctor of Medicine, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ; general psychiatry residency, University of California, Davis, Sacramento; Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship, Tufts Medical Center, Boston

Hometown: Mountainside, NJ

Mentor/admired businessperson: I admire both of my parents and their business careers. They each worked their way up in their respective fields, gaining leadership roles through their own merit, dedication and creativity.

At the same time, they greatly valued our family unit and always provided for us, even when we had very little money to spare. They never complained about having to drive me to a music lesson and never missed even one of my concerts, despite their demanding work schedules. My mother is my mentor, as she has managed to become a leader in her field while still maintaining her humility and empathy.

What is your most disliked industry buzzword?


Typical day at the office: Several meetings to discuss strategies for improvements, half-a-day or more of in-office patient visits, responding to patient emails/refill requests/nursing calls, and responding to about 100 organizational emails a day.

Best place to work outside of your office: My backyard

Hobbies: Hiking, playing flute and piano and attempting to learn electric bass, gardening, and having dance parties with my two sons (ages 2 and 7).

What you wanted to be when you grew up: A classical musician or movie director

#1 thing you want to accomplish by the time you turn 40: Keeping my children happy and healthy

First job: Freight shipping supervisor

Social media you most use: I don't use it much! I scroll Facebook every now and then.

Favorite book: “East of Eden”

Favorite movie: “No Country for Old Men”

Favorite App: Google maps

Favorite after-work drink: Pinot noir

Last vacation: LEGOland

What does your mom or dad brag most about you?

My devotion to my children and my determination in my professional life.

Emily Porch, M.D.

Age: 36

Chief of the Mental Health and Wellness Department, Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center

401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa 95403


Read other profiles of this year's winners.

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