Leading through a health crisis: how to think ahead of the curve
At WellSpan, our vision to be “A Trusted Partner. Reimagining Health Care. Inspiring Health,” has been our guiding force to make an impact within the communities we serve.
Our core values lead us to find a better way to serve our friends and neighbors, and this is so much more than taking care of our patients in a hospital or clinic. Access to high-quality healthcare is so important, but did you know – that most of what accounts for a person’s health and well-being has nothing to do with the healthcare they receive?
Social determinants of health are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that impact their health, functioning, and quality of life.
Factors such as safe housing, transportation, education, job opportunities, access to nutritious foods, language and literacy skills contribute to health disparities and inequities.
If a family doesn’t have access to a fresh fruits, vegetables or other healthy food, they are less likely to have proper nutrition, raising their risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease or obesity. Simply educating people on what foods to eat isn’t going to eliminate the health disparities and barriers for proper nutrition. Instead, we need to work together with community partners to address the complex factors which impact healthy eating.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we quickly noticed a disproportionate impact on some of our communities. Several factors influenced whether people were getting the right care at the right time – such as language barriers, transportation, and safe housing. It meant some of our neighbors were much more likely to get sick with COVID-19.
The response of the WellSpan care teams made sure WellSpan stood as a prepared and trusted partner in the fight against COVID-19. It was incredible and inspiring. I recall during the early days of the pandemic seeing a care team member leaving one of our hospitals with boxes of food. When I asked where she was going, she indicated one of our patients who was awaiting COVID-19 test results and was quarantined in a nearby hotel needed food brought in because this person didn’t have a place to call home. No one asked her to do this. She simply behaved by living our WellSpan value of "do the right thing."
Impacting change begins with awareness and understanding of the challenges our neighbors face, and it takes dedication and teamwork to tackle these challenges. We are relentlessly dedicated to all of those actions.
I’m incredibly proud of our WellSpan team for continuing to ignite transformational change, not only within our walls but within our communities.
It takes each of us – and all of us – to inspire health.
Roxanna Gapstur, Ph.D., R.N.
President and CEO