Updated: Feb 22, 2021
I have repeatedly asked myself this past week, “have we really only been dealing with this for three or four weeks… it feels like a lifetime…” So many ups and downs… so many wins and what feel like failures… so many uplifting stories followed by draining experiences and contexts… so much despair and yet so much gratitude…
During our monthly BHC meeting, it was incredible to hear the BHCs’ resolve and dedication to seeing our patients and community. Even with COVID, even with changing workflows, even with uncertainty, and yes, even with social distancing, March 2020 turned out to be our second most productive March ever. Sense COVID, BHCs have accounted for 16% of all the visits in the health system (typically, we account for 10% of all visits). As we told our team, however, the number of visits isn’t the goal; rather, it reflects us moving towards our value of supporting primary care and creating access for our community, which we know is hurting. The number represents GATHER and us helping the health center reach the four C’s of primary care. The number isn’t the focal point; instead, it’s the value that drives what we do.
Phone visits, Zoom visits, in person, handoffs, scheduled, MAs partnering to interpret our visits, support staff reaching out to our patients to keep them connected, over and over this past month, primary care has stood up and answered the call… The pride the team and the organization have had in what we do has never been higher.
During our weekly organization wide huddles, the BHCs are asked to provide perspective during this crisis. We acknowledge the impact that this is having on all of us. How being in clinic is making our families worry about us and keeps us from being close to them (as shown in the article below about one of our residents). The drain, both physically and emotionally, this ordeal has continuously prompted. The fear of our colleagues, and even ourselves, of being furloughed and the financial security of our community health centers. The fear of what the ripple impact will be for our patients and community. We acknowledge there isn’t a cure for this context. And, at the same time, we reinforce the idea of expressing gratitude, staying connected, and checking-in on one another. To let your teams know the appreciation and admiration you have for each other. To pass along stories of patient care, as they reinforce our grit (my gratitude to one of our interns, Emily Faust, and core BHCs, Sarah Ortner, for regularly sending me their stories, they have been my beacon). To stay connected with our teams, which are what make our organization and primary care function. And, to check-in on one another; the simple, “how are you doing” has quite a different meaning and the intentionality of asking can mean the world, I know it has for me.
I cannot express how healing sharing these PCBH Stories are for me, as well as reading them… The emotions that are present and knowing that our community is here listening and supporting makes the emotions easier to hold with love and kindness. My gratitude to you all for continuously posting your successes, your workflows, and stimulating conversations. It has kept us connected, it has allowed us to check-in on one another. As we always end the BHC perspective portion of the weekly organization huddles, “Love isn’t everything, it is the only thing.” For our patients, our families, our colleagues, and ourselves, above all, love.