This post was written by Gretchen Hammer, a previous member of our team.
Father's Day is always a bit bittersweet for me. I enjoy helping my boys celebrate and show their appreciation for their dad, my husband; however, I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer eight years ago, so the day always feels a bit hollow. Like many who have lost a beloved parent, I find little ways to stay connected to the memories of my dad. One of those moments happened to come this past Father's Day.
The screw in my sunglasses fell out a couple of weeks earlier and I finally had some time to try to fix them. As I was struggling to fit the screw into the very tiny hole in my glasses, I immediately knew the tool I needed--a hemostat. For those of you who have not spent a lot of time around an operating room, a hemostat is critical tool for clamping and sewing. In my house growing up we had no less than four in the kitchen junk drawer at any time.
My dad was a surgeon by day and a quilter by night. He used hemostats during the day as a key tool of his art. At night, he used hemostats to help him sew amazing quilts.
What does all this have to do with health care? Well, it seems to me that my dad was onto something when he took one of his key tools at work, and applied it to another area of his life--quilting. And it seems to me that there are some tools in our health systems change work that are useful in multiple ways, too.
There has been a lot of talk over the last two years about the process of collective impact. The more I have learned about it, the more it seems to me that the notion of working together to achieve a common goal, guided by data, and with strong principles of partnership, is a tool that the Coalition for the Medically Underserved has used in many ways since our founding in 1997. We exercise the notion of collective impact and collaboration in our All Kids Covered work, our Connect to Coverage, Connect to Care work, and we support communities every day who are using data and strong partnerships to improve health in their community.
A hemostat is a simple tool that has lots of uses, so using it in multiple ways makes sense. Working collaboratively is simple too, at its heart. As one attendee put it, in a meeting I was at recently, "Working together is sure a lot smarter than looking like chickens pecking away at the dirt in the barnyard."
We have a lot to do in the next couple of years to shift the current direction of our health care system. I look forward to applying the notions of collaboration and collective impact in every way possible so that we can create a health care system that meets the needs of all Coloradans. And who knows, maybe I'll find some more uses for a hemostat along the way.