Starting Week 2

So here’s the promised update from last Thursday.  It was wonderful!  We had a great visit at one of Unity’s Medical Centres and got to meet a variety of staff there.  It was inspiring to see the genuine passion and care on display from all of the front line staff and to hear stories about the patients who are the reason we’re all here.  I was pleasantly surprised by the respect and care shown among the different “ranks” of providers.  Having heard horror stories of doctors mistreating nurses and bullying within health professions, it was refreshing to meet the staff we met.  It was also very exciting to see enthusiasm and support for integration of behavioural health within the physical health care offerings.

Thursday night we met an Alumni from the first ever Health Corps team for an inspiring design thinking workshop, which helped us to define and understand the patient experiences we are working to help create.

Since then, we’ve been learning more about experiences of behavioural health care integration outside of Unity at other health centres via phone calls and visits.  We’re now making the move from discovery and learning to working and delivery, exploring some of the ideas we’ve had.

At this point, I can’t give an update without mentioning our weekend.  This is my first time in D.C. so it was special to hit our first museum, the “Newseum”, where couldn’t resist buying a copy of the card game about making newspaper headlines “Dog Bites Man”.  Some of the museum highlights were an incredible collection of newspaper front pages and the reporters memorial.

We also had a river cruise which was a lovely perspective on the city, and also a great opportunity to discover that as a group we quite like dancing.  Yes. there are photos and video.  No, I’m not going to share them here.

Olivia Smith,

Team Unity


Week 1 in Washington

It’s hard to believe week 1 is almost over of our Health Corps program.  We’re here in Washington D.C. working with our incredible clients at Unity Health Care.  Incredible in a couple of ways.  They’ve been incredibly friendly, welcoming and open, making them great to work with.  Perhaps more impressive is the way everyone we’ve met at Unity is driven by their mission and by making a difference to a vulnerable population.

I suspect the phrase “mission driven” may be an American phrase, as I don’t think I’ve heard it before, but it’s a wonderful phrase to describe the people I’m surrounded by here.  The staff at Unity, the Corporate Citizenship staff who organise this program, and the rest of my team.  I’m part of a team of very high performers, but everyone seems to be here because they’re excited about Unity and what they do and the chance to help them with their work.

So what’s actually happening here on the ground?  We’re here to help Unity Health Care figure out how best to incorporate behavioural health care in to their primary care practices for their over 100,000 patients.  So far we’ve been meeting a lot of people at Unity and discussing the broad variety of things that need to be considered for this integration.  One of the highlights so far has been the project launch on Tuesday where we had a series of inspirational presentations about the importance of what we’re doing.  These were followed up by round table discussions with people from Unity, other health care organisations and governmental agencies.  The round table discussion was a personal highlight for me, meeting new people and starting to get deep in to, in my case, quality improvement and the incredibly important topic of how to measure success.

I have to finish up this brief update because we’re off for what I expect to be another highlight.  Today we’re going out to a clinic to meet the staff who work there and the patients.  We’re also going to be doing some form of scavenger hunt or challenge activity which is being kept a secret so far.

I’ll let you know how today goes and what the scavenger hunt turns out to be, as well as telling you a bit more about myself and the team soon.

Olivia Smith,

IBM Health Corps – Team Unity