When Patrick Loney, BSN, MBA, RN, was welcomed into the UCLA Health family as chief nursing officer for Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA (RNPH) in November, he hit the ground running. He has not slowed down since.
That could be because, when he’s not working, Loney competes in Ironman triathlons and starts his days with a 6 am run or swim. More likely, though, his accelerated pace is because he is laser-focused on his long-term goal to make RNPH “the best psych facility in the U.S., if not the world.”
“I think we have the underpinnings to do that,” he says.
Loney is primed for the challenge.
His career spans the continuum of psychiatric care, from child and adolescent to adult and geriatric care. He began in the U.S. Navy as an officer in the Nurse Corps, providing clinical care in medicine, emergency services and psychiatry. He has more than 15 years of leadership experience in emergent, acute and outpatient psychiatric care, including his most recent role as director of patient care services for the Pediatric Mental Health Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Loney has worked in emergency medicine, medical units and primary care with different age groups, a background that has prepared him to work across disciplines and systems.
“I like to think that I bring people together and empower people to make decisions,” he says.
Loney’s No. 1 priority at RNPH is delivering safe, world-class care, he says.
“I’m entering an organization that already does that right now, doing that in the context of a COVID surge, and making sure we’re providing maximal access to our patients as well and keeping staff safe and engaged during what is a very difficult time for them,” he says.
As RNPH’s chief nurse, Loney provides guidance and oversight for nursing operations, which includes activities related to patient throughput, quality, safety and finance. He also keeps tabs on strategic initiatives including maintenance of RNPH’s ANCC Magnet® designation and other regulatory and accreditation standards.
While in Colorado, Loney was selected to participate in the Colorado Governor’s Fellowship, a program for private and nonprofit sector leaders who want to expand their impact through public service. With that experience, he says, he gained an appreciation that he, “as a regular person who works in a hospital,” could have a voice to represent the needs of nurses and others “who aren’t often at the table.”
“It encouraged me to not just stand by and react when you don’t like something, but actually look for ways to get involved,” he says.
Loney grew up in a small town in central Iowa. His mother worked as an ICU nurse, a nurse supervisor and, later, as a patient advocate.
“She liked to help out in the community. She delivered furniture to immigrants and, as I think about what got me into nursing, that was a factor. I have to find meaning in work, because we spend a lot of time at work,” he says.
Loney holds an MBA in health care administration from Regis University and a BSN from the University of Iowa. It was during nursing school that he discovered his love for psychiatry — guided, he says, by an instructor who was a “passionate advocate” for mental health. Although he’s worked in several areas of nursing, Loney always found his way back to mental health, he says.
“That’s my passion. This is where I belong, and this is where I feel like I can help the most people.”
Loney says he plans to continue the track toward health care excellence already established at RNPH. His work in this area includes strengthening structural empowerment for Nursing, working toward RNPH’s second Magnet® designation and ensuring Nursing is working well as an interdisciplinary team across all settings.
While in Colorado, Loney served on a steering committee for a $21 million expansion of the University of Colorado health care system’s inpatient and outpatient facilities — an experience he will call upon as he helps guide RNPH in designing and building a dedicated “world-class, state-of-the-art psych facility” in the near future.
“Through this process, we’re going to develop improved ways to meet the needs in the community for psychiatric care at all levels,” he says.
Challenges and opportunities abound, and Loney takes it all in stride. What’s more, he finds fulfillment in accomplishing those things he finds most difficult.
“I’m not a good runner; I suffer like a dog, but when I’m done, I’m like, ‘this is cool,’ ” he says. “’I’m proud when I persevere.”
Jennifer Karmarkar is the author of this article.