This phrase has popped into my head at several points in the last few weeks, probably because the daily news brings so many uncertainties about how health care, politics and economics will unfold in the United States and the world.
The popular notion about the origins of “May you live in interesting times” is that it is a Chinese curse linking interesting times with war. Not a nice thought, and there is actually no concrete link to it being of Chinese origins. I prefer to think of the phrase as a challenge to our creativity, capacity for critical thinking, and measured thoughtful response to a situation.
At the Center we have been asked many times about what our response would be to changes in health care coverage. After considered thought we have said that we will continue to do what we have always done, which is to remain nimble and flexible in responding to whatever needs our patients and clients present.
One of things we have always done is continually improve our ability to respond to needs. We are three weeks away from completing a two- year process of implementing our Electronic Health Records (EHR). Our unique array of comprehensive services presented a challenge to our vendor who worked with us to integrate health care, counseling, psychiatry, dental, social services and eligibility assessment, and scheduling into the same EHR software program. No software provider had done that before.
After a lot of customization of forms and workflows, the addition of many computers and other hardware and step-by-step training of over 100 staff and volunteers, we are LIVE. Immediate benefits to patients are evident as all providers involved in someone’s care can get comprehensive, up-to-the-minute information about a patient’s health status.
Another important ability we now have is to collect aggregate data on patient care, treatments and outcomes. This build-up of historic data enables us to track trends and patterns on patient needs and the effectiveness of treatment. We can also compare data to other care providers in our community.
On the one-to-one patient level, we have been reminded several times over the last two weeks of the impact of even one encounter leading to life saving interventions. Thanks to our incredible volunteers and our good relationship with Rochester General Hospital, two women were diagnosed with abdominal masses needing immediate attention, and within 24 hours they each had the necessary scans and imaging, and surgery was scheduled. Both these women were uninsured, one from Sierra Leone and the other from Ivory Coast. The staffs from the Center and RGH worked together to get them the financial coverage they would need for their care.
Another of our staff met a former patient at a Veterans outreach event. She said, “he looked like a different man,” and he reported to her that the care from all the “nice” people at the Center had helped him turn his life around and he is on a very good path now. He wanted to thank everyone.
I want to thank you for believing in and supporting the work of the Center. I truly see your support of the Center, whether financial, resources or time is not just a donation, but an investment in the future. Every day a positive difference is made in our patients’ and clients’ lives. We know there is not better short-term investment.
And, every day there is a another step taken at the Center in transforming the way health care is delivered; every day we build an integrated and comprehensive approach to delivery of services that we believe is the future of health care. We know there is no better long-term investment.
This is our Spring Appeal time. I ask you to make an investment in the short-term and long-term work of the Center. Thank you for believing in the possibility of better ways and better times.