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The company for whom I’ve worked since March 2015, Lyon Software, has proudly sponsored the annual ACHI Conference – now the Accelerating Health Equity Conference (AHEC) – since back in its earliest days. However, 2022 is the first year I’ve personally had the pleasure of attending the event myself. Therefore, I entered this year’s AHEC from a completely uninitiated perspective, so I knew the experience awaiting me was sure to be new to me no matter how it unfolded.
When We Don’t Reach, We Don’t Connect
History is littered with far too many tragic consequences of shared failure to connect with one another when such connections are not only possible, but mutually beneficial. Though we’re all well aware of this, we also have all likely had moments when, for whatever reason, we’ve opted against making such connections when the opportunity was there for us to do so – usually with very little lost as a result. So we wear it, we accept it, and we move on. One dishearteningly common example of this, paraphrased below, is when someone from an aggrieved group explains their feelings of hurt or frustration to a member of the perceived offending party, only to have that person then mistake the explanatory statement for a direct accusation or personal attack.
“(Your group) has abused its power and access to resources at our expense for generations, and it’s well past time for (your group) to right these wrongs!”
“That may be, and it’s certainly regrettable, but I had nothing to do with any of that myself personally, and I don’t appreciate your implication that I did, so I have nothing further to discuss with you.”
Sadly, exchanges like this often spell the end of any meaningful dialogue between the two persons before it can even start, along with all chances for shared discovery, growth and understanding. In short, the failure here occurs on two levels: A failure to accurately perceive a reach as the reach that it is, and a failure to reciprocate that initial reach with a reach of understanding in response. While the full extent of what’s truly lost when this happens can never be known, it seems impossible to overstate its potential impact.
Reaching, Connecting, Fortifying
The intensity of this collective pain of opportunity lost does begin to wane when one considers the simplicity of the path to its abatement. An attentive moment of listening, an empathetic gesture of acknowledgement, a first step of ascent toward understanding. What I’ve taken from this conference more than anything else is that all these relatively small actions can form a very attainable foundation for potentially limitless growth – through open dialogue, clear communication of goals, and collaborative efforts in pursuit of those goals once those first two steps reveal just how closely aligned those goals so often tend to be.
Time and again through this conference, the fruits of such efforts were clearly on display. For example, partnerships forged in New Jersey and Virginia between major health systems, community leaders and leading real estate and residential development entities have already made substantial strides in creating safe, affordable housing in their respective communities. The positive impact of these stabilizing and economically sustainable collaborative projects is already being felt by their co-contributors, the homeowners they directly benefit, and their respective communities at large. In addition, both projects are already showing multiple signs of self-perpetuation – that the homeowners who have been helped by the opportunities provided are already beginning to assume roles vital in the process of bringing the next wave of new homeowners into the homes created.
Another example impossible to ignore is the notable collaboration between Cleveland’s three main health care systems that was the subject of Wednesday morning’s “Partnering to Invest in Communities” session. Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, and University Hospitals all have made profound investments of time and resources into the idea of better serving their community by welcoming the community to tell them how to better serve their community. By reaching out to the community they serve; by listening to, learning and acknowledging the unpleasant truth that they were not serving their community as well as they could have been; and by starting to involve their community in decisions to be made going forward with direct impact on community healthcare availability, these three health systems were able to earn the trust of their community. Once trust was established, the collaboration began to take off. Plus, it should not go unsaid that these three health systems also incurred much better results after deciding to collaborate amongst themselves and work together to solve the problems they were all facing concurrently anyway!
Something I found to be particularly fascinating by the time the conference had ended was realizing how in two days my understanding of health equity had gone from a fairly abstract notion of balancing healthcare access more fairly to a multi-dimensional initiative that’s expanding dynamically throughout the country. And as a company offering software designed to help organizations measure and document the ways in which they positively impact their communities, we’ve noticed an increasing number of our healthcare clients starting to directly track specific Social Determinants of Health – the elemental units of measure for health equity as a whole. So, as we observe its expanding importance to our customers, we at Lyon Software have been all the more inspired to explore it further ourselves, and the 2022 Accelerating Health Equity Conference was a very vivid and enlightening way to continue that process. Our company is honored and delighted to have helped sponsor this conference, and I’m personally excited to see what its future may hold. To that point, I’m even MORE excited for the future of health equity itself. Awareness is growing, progress is being made, and results are infectious. The future is only there if you build it, so let’s build it together!
Thanksgiving Week has always personally been my favorite time of the year. To kick the week off right, I wanted share what our entire staff is thankful for in 2021.
Last week, I sent our employees a 1 question anonymous survey: What are you thankful for? They could answer it however they want. As expected, it received a lot of great responses. The answers covered 3 central themes.
Teamwork makes the Dream Work
I’ve worked for 23 different companies, and have experienced of a wide variety of workplace cultures and management styles. However, I have never witnessed a workplace culture where people sincerely care about one another the way we do at Lyon Software. In my opinion, it is the most unique aspect of our company.
More than just working well together, we genuinely value each other as people first, co-workers second. Many of us have developed friendships with each other outside of the office.
Here is what our staff had to say about our culture:
- I am thankful for the ongoing opportunity to professionally learn and grow with the best team I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I’m also thankful this same team is equally supportive of the pursuits I follow beyond the confines of our shared workdays!
- I’m thankful for the continuity of our team. The same staff has been here for my entire tenure (almost 5 years), and we continue to grow together. Additionally, I’m thankful that working within our strengths in encouraged – it’s allowed me to grow creatively.
- We have a wonderful team to work with: no drama, no fighting, and always reliable – I love this!
- I am thankful for the family I have at Lyon Software. Everyone is kind and supportive of one and other. My Lyon Software family makes me feel valued because they listen and genuinely care.
Technology is Amazing
Nobody realized just how valuable technology would become for our work until March 12, 2020. That is the day we began working from home.
We are all so grateful that as a company, every person in our office was able to make a smooth transition to working from home. It could be argued that our communication and productivity has actually improved since beginning to work from home.
Here is what our staff said about technology:
- I’m thankful that we can still provide service to clients that meets their needs without interruption, even during a pandemic.
- I’m thankful for web cameras that keep us connected and allow us to see each other’s smiles.
- I’m thankful for the technology that provides me with the ability to see the prospects I work with and talk to them as if we were in the same room.
We Truly Care for our Clients
We wouldn’t be here without all of the wonderful people from client hospitals and senior living facilities that we get to work with every day. We all love that we have developed great business relationships with so many of our clients, regardless of whether they have been with their organization for 30 years or 30 days.
Here is what our staff said about working with our clients:
- I’m thankful that our clients are excited about our newest version of CBISA.
- I’m thankful that our clients are always wanting to improve their community benefit work.
- I’m thankful that we continue to gain new clients and grow those relationships.
- I’m thankful for the opportunity to become friends (outside of business) with so many of our clients.
What would you add to the list?
Comment your thoughts below.
Next month is international Campus Sustainability month. Throughout October, colleges and universities will be organizing events to bring awareness to sustainability issues, with the hopes of inspiring students and faculty to be more environmentally conscious and encourage generational change.
Whether you’re on campus or not, if you are in charge of a sustainability program, there are four critical areas that you need to address in order to ensure it has significant long-term success. Thinking back to my university days, these four attributes of their recycling program have stuck with me for over 20 years, even though I wasn’t directly involved in any campus sustainability groups.
Make it Cool
I arrived in McDonald Hall as a freshman at Bowling Green State University (Go Falcons!) in August of 1997. One of the first things I noticed in those few days before classes began were all the recycling containers. It was a huge transition from high school, where recycling wasn’t nearly as top of mind.
What makes the BGSU recycling program memorable for me is that they attached a slogan with a double-meaning to it. BGSU Can Recycle was a creative play on words. Yes, it was obviously an initiative for students to recycle their pop cans. More importantly, it was also a proclamation to everyone associated with BGSU. Bowling Green was committed to doing a better job of recycling and being environmentally conscious. Their motto let everyone on campus know that we all had a part to play.
Make it Convenient
If you’re trying to change the habits of people in your organization or neighborhood, removing as many barriers as possible is crucial. Bowling Green consistently did a great job of this.
Recycling containers weren’t just in dining halls. They were everywhere. If you were walking from the Student Union to Jerome Library, you passed one in the center of campus. If you were farther away, like at the Rec Center, a recycling center was there too. BGSU made it very easy for students to recycle, and we responded accordingly.
Even at massive events like the annual back-to-school campus cookout, recycling containers were prevalent. Yet, if you walked by University Hall even 15 minutes afterward, you would never know that thousands of hungry college students just had lunch, all spread out across the lawn. Keeping the campus clean was important to everyone, so we all did our part.
Make it a Challenge
Nobody likes a problem, but everyone loves a good challenge. I heard Tony Robbins say that once, and it really stuck with me.
When I was a student, BGSU was great at promoting challenges for various causes. These were highlighted at football and basketball games, where Greek houses and residence halls were always highly visible and usually competing for some cause.
Friendly competition gets people involved. More than just saying “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, find a way to put a competitive spin on your program. You’ll be surprised at the results you can achieve through fun competition.
Make it the Culture
As a student, I was always very impressed that Greek houses and residence halls were at the forefront of every large campus-wide initiative. Whether it was Dance Marathon, environmental causes, or special one-day events, they were instrumental in promoting to the rest of campus. Your organization can operate similarly.
Find the influencers in your organization and get them on board with your sustainability initiatives. It only takes a few people taking consistent action to improve the culture and spread positive change.
Times Have Changed
In my research, I found that BGSU Can Recycle was retired quite a while ago. To be honest, I’m not sure if that was ever an official slogan, but it was everywhere on campus and obviously had a lasting impression on me. I’m a very thorough and consistent recycler now, and that likely took shape during my years at BGSU.
You can find more about the Going Green at Bowling Green initiatives (started in 2008) by visiting their Office of Campus Sustainability.
Most people in the United States are taught that they should recycle, and most (94%) say they support recycling, so why are only 34.7% of Americans actually recycling? According to a 2019 survey by the waste management company Covanta, this inaction can be attributed to a lack of understanding on how to recycle, rather than a lack of care. Unfortunately, despite their good intentions, even those who do actively recycle are not always doing so correctly. This leads to recyclables becoming contaminated and unusable.
What is recycling contamination?
Contamination occurs when product residue remains on recyclables, when non-recyclables are mixed with recyclables, and when different types of recyclable materials are mixed. If a batch of recycling has too high of a contamination percentage, the entire batch is discarded as waste. The most effective way to prevent this waste is to follow the guidelines established by each recycling company- Never assume that the procedures for each type of recycling will be the same!
How can contamination be prevented?
A great first step to avoiding contamination in recycling is making sure the intended items align with current guidelines. For plastics and some other non-standard materials, start by searching for a recycling number or recycling instructions- If you cannot find a recycling number or instructions, chances are that the item in question is not recyclable. Exceptions may include cardboard, paper, aluminum, tin, or steel cans, which are typically recyclable. After confirming an item is recyclable, the next step is to thoroughly rinse out any food, cleaning, or cosmetic product residue from the container. If recycling cardboard or paper, be sure to look out for any oil or food stains, as those count as contaminates.
Another great way to avoid contamination is by using sorted recycling bins instead of single-stream recycling bins. Single-stream recycling is a system in which all types of recyclables can be placed in the same bin; however, this type of recycling often leads to cross contamination causing huge waste. While convenient, oftentimes neither humans nor machines can adequately and quickly sort single-stream recyclables resulting in high levels of contamination. Remember, contaminated recyclables end up in a landfill: exactly what we are trying to avoid by recycling! Because of these reasons, separating recyclables into like bins is the safest way to go.
A Note from the Author
The next time you unpack a cardboard box or empty a can of soup, remember the simple step I have laid out for you. I hope you feel empowered by the knowledge that you can make the correct decisions regarding product recyclability and preparation. Thank you for doing your part to keep waste out of landfills!
To find more information on specific types of recycling, follow these resources: