Message from the President: Confronting the reality of Orlando

In light of the tragic events in Orlando on Sunday, June 12, I struggled along with so many of you these past few weeks to try to make sense of what happened.  

I felt particularly convicted by our mission statement at MultiCare Health System: Partnering for healing and a healthy future, and our emerging mission statement for MultiCare Connected Care:  Together, we are creating a healthier future. I feel that these statements mean that we, as health care providers, have a direct obligation to engage with our community partners to address not only the medical diseases and health conditions we usually talk about, but the broader issues of safety, accountability and responsibility that contribute to creating communities where citizens can thrive and be as healthy as possible.

That, to me, is what population health is about.

It would be so easy to feel sad for a while and then return to the fray of our busy work and personal lives, forgetting that this past month 49 other people no longer have that luxury. And it doesn‘t stop with those 49. There are the children of Sandy Hook and Columbine, and our fellow citizens at Charleston Emanuel Church,  San Bernadino, and the number of lives goes on and on. Six thousand lives this year so far, lost to gun violence alone.

It would also be easy to ignore the reality that our country now reacts to potentially preventable casualties with a moment of silence before we get on with our lives with little evidence to suggest we‘re doing anything different as a society to improve. 

The conversation provokes a lot of passionate opinions and figuring out how to lend one‘s voice to conversations that will help us to tackle these challenges responsibly and effectively can be really confusing.

At MultiCare Health System and MultiCare Connected Care, we‘ve been focusing on three components in reaction to the Orlando tragedy:

  1. Acknowledgement through activities like lowering our flags to half-staff and public comment the week of the shooting.
  2. Support by extending counseling and support services both to our staff and employees as well as our community partners that support the LGBTQ community, and redirecting interested people to the One Orlando Fund and other agencies that seek to provide much needed support to the families and Orlando community impacted by recent events.
  3. Advocacy by engaging in emerging conversations with others about how to channel our voices and efforts in a manner that will help us to collectively address how we, as a population ecosystem, can help support positive change that decreases the risk of similar circumstances from recurring.

I hope that you will take the time to think about what this all means to you and how you will help us to collectively integrate issues like public safety into our population health agenda. 

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