Guest post from Essential Class of 2014 participant Mary McDowell, with her thoughts on the April class day on regional healthcare. Mary is the Director of Operations at People’s Community Clinic.
The room rang with Senator Kirk Watson’s refreshingly unvarnished declaration, long known to be true in Texas: healthcare is political. But for this blog I am actually more interested in another of his themes—that healthcare is personal. In fact, I argue it is nothing if not personal. Like almost no other issue covered in our months of exploration, healthcare is a personal issue. We have all had bad doctors or beloved nurses, or perhaps even life changing moments in the midst of a healthcare setting. Some of the best and worst moments of our lives will inevitably happen with a care team at our side.
I think we also learned this month that healthcare is complex. The acronyms and terms of art are overwhelming: patient centered medical home, meaningful use, reimbursement systems, ACA, managed care, HMO, ACO, CCC. In the interest of full disclosure, I admit to being hip deep in all these terms and acronyms. Yes, I am part of the problem and I am also part of the solution and I love it. But I must also admit to doubt. Has “complex” turned into “complicated?” Are we attempting to manufacture what really can only be an organic product—community? Has even the process of reform become so systems-oriented that we are losing sight of what is simple, what is personal?
And so when I ask myself where I would spend my one dollar I realize I would spend it not on technologies or systems reform. I would spend it in ways that ensure care remain personal, in ways that enhance relationships, in ways that permit space and time for kindness.
In fact, for me, that’s the big take away from our months-long journey. Fixing systems can be daunting, be it healthcare, transportation, or built and natural environments. But there is always something that connects the people who make up systems. There should always be room for a walk and talk, always an opportunity to make things personal. Create the space and time to talk about who we are, not what we do.
2014 — Best Class Ever!
NOTE: The opinions of Leadership Austin alumni, faculty members, and guest bloggers are their own, and do not represent an official position of the organization.