A note from Bob Franko:
Friday, May 13, 2016 will be my last day with Cherokee Health Systems. I’ve accepted an appointment as CEO of a health center in a neighboring state and will begin there at the end of the month.
Cherokee Health Systems will continue to grow and expand its consultation and technical assistance training reach. We’re exploring different training platforms using web-based portals, and developing new products that we can sell at reasonable costs to our safety net colleagues. We’ve already done much work in that area, especially in the development of our NextGen EMR integrated care templates that we’ve provided to a couple of our friends in different states. I’m a bit biased, but I can attest that in doing this work for the last six years with hundreds of organizations, in 49 states (seriously, Mississippi???), is that there is no one out there with the depth and breadth of Cherokee’s experience in regard to the Behavioral Enhanced Patient Centered Medical Home practice, and who is so readily available and willing to help.
I often tell people that my first experience with Cherokee over 11 years ago was full of skepticism. Looking through a lens that was long smudged with cynicism and apathy from working in community mental health and dealing with constant cutbacks, stigma, and a general unhappiness of a workforce that had a list of demands yet a firm unwillingness to adapt to the times, I initially saw Cherokee’s commitment to its mission as something produced on a Disney back lot. It couldn’t be real. No one working in the safety net could be this eager to serve and share. But it was. It was – is – tangible, it’s like the feeling of fresh ozone in an electrified air. “What’s the secret sauce,” people often ask when they come visit, what makes this real?
Well, any Italian worth his weight in pesto will tell you that any good sauce is a combination of ingredients added carefully, simmered under a watchful eye, and even though it sounds corny, cooked with love. The secret sauce includes culture, vision, a commitment to mission, training, best-in-class clinical services, and recruitment. Those ingredients are added and administered by a leadership that leads by example through humble service, and “simmered” through constant, unwavering commitment to the communities we serve. The binding agent, the secret ingredient that thickens the sauce, is love. It’s a staff of people who love doing what they do. It’s a staff of people who all feel that they contribute; there is very little hierarchy on the teams.
Where do you get the recipe? You don’t. You already have it. You do what’s right for your patients and community, constantly striving to increase access and decrease barriers. I’ve had the privilege of working beside Dr. Dennis Freeman for several years now, both formally as an employee, and as a colleague in the safety net, and no one I’ve ever met communicates his vision and sense of mission better than him. That’s where it starts. It starts with the courage to forge ahead with what you know to be right, and not cower to external forces of payment methodologies or inane regulatory edicts. It’s empowered me, it’s created in me my own personal mission to impact a population the same way. That’s how change happens. That’s how a system transforms. I’m not leaving Cherokee. I’m taking it with me, as I am my experiences from previous stops. But Dr. Freeman, and what the team at Cherokee does on a daily basis, has changed me in ways I can’t possibly explain. That’s how people transform. There aren’t words for me to express my appreciation enough; the only thing I can do is to do my part in changing the world.
So I will.
Someone else will write this blog from now on. Cherokee will continue to support you and be there as a resource and an example of what can be. Use it.