A week after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, we are hearing that this United States territory is facing a humanitarian crisis. That is a phrase we have all heard before about poor countries in other parts of the world – it could be the result of a natural disaster or a civil war. A crisis like this saddens us, but it’s usually so far away, and we just move on.
What is a “humanitarian crisis”? Wikipedia defines it as “a singular event or a series of events that are threatening in terms of health, safety or well being of a community or large group of people”. Another way of saying it – when the basics of life are unavailable – food, water, transportation, healthcare, and communications.
Puerto Rico is us, yes US. It is not somewhere far away. It is 1000 miles from Miami. 3.5 million people live in Puerto Rico. It is 3 times the size of Rhode Island – in square miles and in population.
Less than 50% of Puerto Ricans have running water. The entire island is without power, the power grid has been destroyed. Only 29 of 69 hospitals on the island are operational. Hospitals still open are running on generators and quickly running out of fuel. In the capital city of San Juan, 2 people on life support died when their hospital’s generators ran out of diesel.
Interviews with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz on MSNBC brought this home. She could not have been more articulate in her plea for federal help. As she talked about the dire situation and the reality of hospitals running out of power, she described them as places to care for and heal people, not to be death traps.
Luis Guiterrez, U.S. Representative from the Illinois 4th congressional district, whose parents were born in Puerto Rico described in vivid terms what the elderly are going through there. He asked us to think about what it would be like for our own elderly parents who may live alone. What if they didn’t have access to food or water and they needed insulin. He called for the U.S. military to go in and quickly set up a power and communications infrastructure as we know they can and do in wartime.
The USNS Comfort is larger than many of the largest hospitals in this country with 1000 beds. Continue reading
“My spouse won’t move.” You may have heard this if you have ever hired someone who would need to relocate their family. You may have even heard it after you extended the offer. If it happens that late in the process, it may be just an easy excuse because they weren’t going to accept the position anyway.
Whether your spouse and family are willing to relocate to a particular city is something that should be discussed and agreed on together very early in the process. Why waste everyone’s time if it’s not going to work.
Relocating is a big decision. I’ve done it several times. And each time, my husband and I discussed it early on. Was this a part of the country we were willing to live in? Was this city one that we’d be happy in? What did the housing market look like? These are just some of the considerations.
If you are early in your career, you probably want to figure out what kind of future opportunities are in that area, is it family friendly, are there good schools, and can you afford to buy a house. If you are later in your career, you may think of your next move in terms of where you might want to eventually retire or living closer to your grandkids.
Regardless of where you are in your career, there are some common considerations. Assuming it’s a job you really want and an organization you really want to work for, here is my advice on what to consider when relocating: Continue reading
As an entrepreneur with my own business I am required to learn more new things than I ever imagined. That includes new software tools – and lots of them.
Our firm uses SalesforceIQ to track prospects and clients. This tool has so much flexibility and is so easy to set up that we have found many additional ways to use it. Our virtual admin sets up the basics for us once we provide requirements; we then maintain the data. It’s so easy and intuitive that I have made changes myself that in another system would require a programmer. SalesforceIQ gets high marks from me!
We’ve been leveraging LinkedIn as a business which has meant learning about functions individuals don’t need to use. We have needed expertise from our LinkedIn support person and then our virtual admin to implement. But it’s been fun to learn what’s possible and figure out how best to leverage it.
Then there are those basic Office 365 tools. Maybe you have a love / hate relationship with them. I do at times. Sometimes, you hear the term “bloatware” for products that are so feature rich you couldn’t possibly use them all, much less figure them out.
Anyone in management knows the basics of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. But do you really know how to use all the advanced functions? Or do you turn it over to a staff person at some point to do that level of manipulating? What you think should be intuitive just isn’t much of the time. Or maybe I’m just showing my age.
But I keep at it and learn as I go. I just need to recognize when it’s diminishing returns and ask someone for help. I shoot off a note to one of my colleagues or our admin. My husband is probably happy that he can’t be my “next door office support person” for these kinds of questions; he uses all Apple products. Continue reading
“I need to go to the Container Store”. When I hear my husband say that simple sentence, I’m totally in. Unlike when he says he’s going to a nearby office supply store for something, I have to go with to the Container Store. There is always something there I could buy to get myself more organized.
I work from home when I’m not doing an interim management engagement, so my home office is a continuous improvement project. Or is that just an excuse to fool myself and buy more organizing tools?
Before the trip last weekend, I stepped back to assess my needs. After all, you can’t just walk into that store and head to the home office section without a plan. I opened the storage closet in my home office. I was instantly reminded that I had unused organizers from previous trips plus unwanted products from my husband’s home office. The guilt set in.
I made a plan for organizing my desk and working files better. I decided I didn’t need any new organizers for now. But I did want one more way to hang stuff up on my office wall. So, I carefully measured the space and thought about the product I’d buy.
There’s something about the Container Store that sucks you in. There’s always a sale and always cool new products. It’s not that close to us so fortunately we don’t go that often. The challenge is to not wander around the store fantasizing about all the possible containers and organizers that could transform your life. Who couldn’t be more organized somewhere in their life? Whether it’s your kitchen, your bathroom, your laundry room, your closets, or your office, there’s something calling to you. Continue reading
We have watched with sadness as Hurricane Harvey has flooded first southeast Texas and now Louisiana. We have seen the spirit of the American people at its best. Volunteers from around the country have brought their own boats to rescue residents while thousands have donated money and supplies. As of Thursday morning, there had been over 25,000 water rescues.
Hospitals are meant to operate and care for patients 24/7 through a disaster. But they too were impacted by the rising waters. I took a break mid-day yesterday to watch the news. I saw in that 15-minutes the evacuation of patients from Baptist Hospital in Beaumont, Texas after the city lost its water supply. Without clean water, the hospital had to close and transfer 190 patients.
Patients, many in wheelchairs, needing dialysis treatment were being boarded onto Black Hawk helicopters by teams of doctors and nurses. They were being handed over to military medics to be flown to a hospital in Jasper, Texas – 70 miles away.
The last step in the transfer process was a clinician giving a folded-up paper to the medic. She had stuffed it under her shirt until that point so it didn’t blow away in the wind from the helicopter propellers. We know that this critical paper handoff probably happened over and over this week as patients were transferred to other facilities.
In this age of electronic medical records (EMRs) and health information exchanges (HIEs), we hope that piece of paper is a backup document. Transfers within a health system with a common EMR should be able to rely on the system for access to critical patient information. Health systems that participate in HIEs should be able to rely on some level of data exchange and access between health systems and their disparate EMRs.
I was encouraged to see two health IT articles this week – “As Harvey Devastates Houston, HIE Leaders Move in to Help” in Healthcare Informatics, and “What’s Next for Health Information Exchanges?” in Healthcare IT News. The first article describes the power of the HIE in Texas; portals have been set up in the many shelters so clinicians can access critical health information as they care for people in need of medical attention. The second article talks about the future needs that HIEs could meet and their potential benefits as healthcare continues to evolve. Continue reading