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
In the past four days, I’ve learned about and interacted with ten different healthcare systems. Some are current consulting and coaching clients while others are prospective clients. Their needs for services range from interim management to leadership development to small, discrete consulting projects.
Their challenges and needs are unique, but not necessarily new to me. After 30+ years in healthcare IT, I “know a lot because I have seen a lot” as the insurance company advertises. But if I am going to be effective in meeting each client organization’s needs, I need to get to know each client organization, the players and the culture.
I enjoy the day to day work of an interim CIO engagement like my recent one at Stony Brook Medicine. It’s very rewarding to be part of a larger team making a difference for patients. But interacting with many different organizations around the country and helping them solve problems is an entirely different kind of challenge. It is fun and rewarding in its own way.
On that first call with a prospective client, you need to establish your credibility and determine if your services are a match to their needs. Listening skills are critical – when talking to a prospective client and once you get the work. You need to go deep to understand their unique issues. And at the same time, you need to apply your experience and knowledge from other organizations.
Five new leads for StarBridge Advisors have come my way this week. I’m chasing them all. Once I understand the unique need, I’ll match one of our advisors and prepare a proposal for the client.
This level of client activity requires good administration, organization, and tools. We have the tools and continue to refine our processes. We’re trying to fully leverage SalesforceIQ and use it consistently as a firm. Leveraging our tools and creating repeatable processes is all part of the work this first year in business. Continue reading
This is not about who you voted for in 2016.
This is not about whether you neatly compartmentalize your political persuasions and don’t talk politics at work.
This is about standing up for what you believe and living your values.
The six CEOs who left the president’s manufacturing council after Charlottesville may have done it to protect their businesses and profits. But I will give them the benefit of the doubt; they were unwilling to work with a president who cannot call white supremacists and neo-Nazis what they are.
The last to leave before the remaining members agreed to disband was AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. He made the strongest and clearest statement of all. He announced he was leaving the council late Tuesday after President Trump defended his original statement on Charlottesville, blaming both sides. “We cannot sit on a council for a President who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism,” the organization said in a statement. “President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups.”
Ken Frazier was the first CEO to step down after Charlottesville. “As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said in a statement. He was the only African American CEO on the council and is the only one singled out publicly and criticized by the President.
We live and work and play and study in a global society with great diversity. I embrace that diversity.
When I am coaching leaders I challenge them to share their values with the people they lead. I challenge them to envision the leader they want to be and to take concrete steps to become that leader. And I always encourage them to put aside personal agendas and do what is right for their organization. Continue reading
This is not about a fabulous vacation on some distant island.
This is another version of “adventures in a new city”. That’s what my husband and I have called my interim CIO engagements.
This time “our adventure in a new city” was on Long Island. It was more my adventure than my interim in Cleveland last year; my husband spent more time with me there. We did have two weekends together on Long Island: one in the Big Apple and one to enjoy the island in the summer.
The weekend in NYC was what you’d expect – great restaurants, museums, the subway and a lot of walking. On Long Island, we visited the wineries on the north fork and went to the beach on the south shore. We got more ideas for our garden after a walking tour of gardens and landscapes in Port Jefferson. It made me want to spend more time here and, who knows, with a ferry between New London, Connecticut and Orient, New York, we just may do that.
The island is 118 miles long – the longest and largest island in the contiguous United States. Suffolk County makes up the eastern 2/3 of the island. I learned the history of Long Island’s growth and eastward expansion over the past 50 years and how Stony Brook Medicine fits into that growth, providing quaternary and tertiary care to Suffolk County. Continue reading
You have priority work scheduled on your calendar. You have carved out time when not in meetings to get some work done. Yet urgent issues keep finding their way to your office. Sound familiar?
That’s the life of anyone in management, especially in large complex organizations. And it’s a challenge these days as our new Stony Brook Medicine CIO and I try to get through a three-week transition period. The outline of what I need to cover with her is four pages long. And I keep adding more items.
We are ending week two. By next week, I should be in far fewer meetings as she handles them without me. I should be able to finish my tasks as part of the transition and organize my paper and electronic files to turn over to her. I know she doesn’t like paper, so I’ll be ruthless as I purge and give her only the most important paper files.
We’ve done our best to block out some chunks of time together to get through everything.
But when we sit down together to go over the next block of information, we often end up first dealing with the latest requests and issues. What started as a focused two-hours is suddenly half gone.
What have I learned? Continue reading
I recently had the opportunity to do a talk as part of a Women in Leadership lecture series. The title of the talk was “Yes We Can – Developing Next Generation Leaders”. I covered leadership lessons from my many years of experience, the challenges for women in STEM, and general career advice. The group had a lot of great questions and comments from their experience, so it was a lively and interactive session.
Regardless of gender, if you are a leader or future leader, these tips may be useful to you.
Find a mentor – You can’t do it yourself. Find someone you consider a role model and who is willing to invest some time and energy in helping you develop.
Let go and be willing to delegate – If you try to do it all yourself, you won’t develop others nor have time to do the work that allows you to grow.
Give up on perfectionism – It is the enemy of good. It wastes time and keeps you from doing other work.
Ask for feedback – Take off the blinders and ask for honest feedback from your staff, your boss, your peers, and your customers. What should you start doing, stop doing and continue doing.
Consider everything a learning opportunity – Remember that you can learn from every experience. Whether it is a new skill, knowledge or lesson on how to improve for next time. Continue reading