“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.”
January 20, 2016 - 2015 was a year of travel and change for me, and to help with all of the transitions I made it a goal to try and talk to everyone I could find in the healthcare preparedness space. And I filled up an entire notebook while doing it. After five plus years at Rx Response/Healthcare Ready I’m positive I learned more in 2015 than the rest put together, and a major reason for that was because I made listening a priority. We are all so busy with limited time and resources—and a lot of work to do before the day is done – that taking time during the week to find folks, reach out, schedule time with them, and then meet to learn their perspectives is not easy. But as the new Executive Director I felt the first thing I needed to do was admit I don’t know everything and try to find the smartest people in the field to share their opinions, which would help me fine-tune mine.
And after scores of meetings and dozens of trips, one theme I continually hear is that we need to find a way to bring more voices into this field. In September, I attended the Aid & International Development Forum’s Global Disaster Summit and attended a fascinating panel on Best Practices and Innovations for Emergency WASH. One panelist who spoke about her time delivering aid throughout Africa asked the attendees (who worked in various areas of aid logistics) how many of them had actually spoken to the people their products supported. Not one hand in the audience was raised. This sentiment was echoed at the PHEMCE meeting in early January, which Healthcare Ready Director of Programming, Nicolette Louissaint, attended. She shared that one of the most impactful moments of the conference was when an attendee stood up and asked how the federal government planned to test a new method to gather data during an emergency. As we all know, all responses are local, and it was clear the attendee was concerned that the plans would be unrealistic for the local responders.
It is not so surprising that those debating and making policies, and implementing programs at a federal level, don’t always have a strong enough connection to the ones on the ground who spend every day with the consequences. I certainly know I don’t, not yet. And I want to help make that change. One small step toward that will be our new “Perspectives” series on our blog. We want to highlight perspectives at every level in the world of healthcare preparedness, public and private, federal and local. We want to know how things work where you are- and what doesn’t.
So if you have an opinion—or just want to share what your day looks like, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make your perspective heard.