Scripps Health director returns to North County, overseeing cancer care

Karen Jensen
( / Courtesy photo)

Although just shy of three months into her new role as director of Scripps Health’s system-wide oncology clinical care line, Carmel Valley’s Karen Jensen already feels at home.

“It’s been wonderful,” Jensen said. “It’s been even better than I had anticipated. I couldn’t be happier to be here.”

As director of the oncology clinical care line for the health system’s integrated cancer program, “I work with our partners across the Scripps system to make sure that we’re providing high-quality, safe care to all of our cancer patients,” she said.

“That’s working on our care delivery to improve quality, safety and service, making sure that we stay ahead in research and education, leveraging our resources as a system, and making sure we’re continuing to transform our care delivery in a challenging health care environment.”

Before joining Scripps, Jensen held a variety of leadership roles in the Mayo Clinic’s southwest Minnesota region for 23 years.

She started her career with the Mayo Clinic as a chief financial officer at a small medical clinic at the age of 25. Over more than two decades, Jensen worked in finance, nursing, operations and quality at the Mayo Clinic.

Most recently, she served as the Mayo Clinic’s vice president of quality and director of clinical outcomes. In this role, she was responsible for improving quality and safety across the continuum of patient care, including implementing a regional medical staff quality program.

“I’m most proud of the impact I’ve had on the lives I’ve encountered over the years, whether it be patients or colleagues and staff,” Jensen said. “That’s been the most rewarding by far.”

Jensen grew up in Vista, but her family relocated to Minnesota when she was a teenager. After graduating from high school, she earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting and her master’s degree in business administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

After college, Jensen worked at an accounting firm for one year before transitioning to health care.

Jensen returned to her San Diego roots in February, relocating to Carmel Valley. On Feb. 9, she stepped into her new role at Scripps Health.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time getting familiar with the Scripps system, getting out to all of the sites and meeting all of the folks at the point of care,” she said. “What’s been most rewarding is seeing how, within the Scripps culture, it’s embedded that we put the needs of our patients first. That’s very much in alignment with my past experience at Mayo Clinic.”

Founded in 1924, San Diego-based Scripps Health is a nonprofit integrated health care system that includes five hospital campuses and 26 outpatient centers and clinics, and treats more than 600,000 patients annually through 2,600 affiliated physicians and more than 14,000 employees.

A nationally recognized leader in cancer care, Scripps diagnoses and treats more than 4,000 new cancer patients through its system-wide oncology clinical care line every year.

Scripps treats more cancer patients annually than any other provider in California for cancers of the breast, colon, bladder, lung (small-cell carcinoma), Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In addition, Scripps ranks in the top five statewide for the number of patients treated annually for cancers of the prostate, pancreas, kidney, lung (non-small-cell carcinoma), thyroid and skin (melanoma).

“Scripps’ cancer program is the most comprehensive program in Southern California,” Jensen said. “My vision and my role is to really continue what Scripps has already done an amazing job of developing. I want to continue to build and expand on what’s already here.”