What is the most important thing you are working on right now?
The number one challenge for our state continues to be access. We have tremendous unmet need. We are 1 of the 5 poorest states and have some of the worst health indicators. To add to this, we have had several rural hospital closures in the past couple of years and Alabama did not expand Medicaid. Many people have to go to adjacent communities for their care.
One positive development in the last couple of years is the development of the Alabama Partnership for Telehealth. This is a great example of successful networking from our annual conference 2 years ago. This partnership with Georgia’s telehealth initiative is focusing on cardiovascular telemedicine and telestroke. We are really beginning to see the genesis of what will be a comprehensive program.
Other developments in our state that will hopefully provide some added resources for our office include the reestablishment of the state AHEC program, Regional Medicaid Organizations and a new DO school.
What is one characteristic you believe every SORH leader should possess?
You have to be dedicated and a bit of a salesman. You need to sell the fact that there is a problem and then sell your program as part of the solution. In a state environment where the resources are austere, you are often challenged to justify the worthiness of your initiatives and this requires marketing, promoting and perseverance.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a SORH leader?
We are trying to be at the forefront of program developments, which is difficult since there is something new everyday. We are trying to remain innovative in an environment of shrinking resources. Our staff has a positive attitude, strong communication skills and the ability to work together as a team.