The two words connote a positive tone — progress, fearlessness, courageousness. They also happened to be the theme of the 2023 American College of Healthcare Executives Congress, where health leaders gathered to explore practical solutions to the challenges we face today, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.
But as I listened, and reflected on the last few years in particular, it dawned on me that it’s hard to think “bolder and brighter” when the situation feels much direr. Workforce, homelessness, finances, Medi-Cal — the list goes on.
Given the list of challenges, can we really afford to think about problem and solutions in the same way we have been? Often, it feels like we’re not having the right conversation at the right time, and with the right people. All stakeholders must be willing participants in truly addressing the issues because things are much more complicated than they might seem on the surface.
Too many times, it seems, in our state, and across the country in Washington D.C., the “practical solution” is to do something (i.e., pass legislation or enact policy) to fix the problem, and then place blame when it doesn’t. But is that really solving the problem? It seems that rather than legislating and regulating our way to solutions, maybe we need to think about even brighter and bolder ways of problem-solving — ways that really address the issues at hand.
Take, for instance, homelessness, which we know is a big problem in our region. Your hospitals see this firsthand every day, and the data reflect it. But rather than just pointing fingers at hospitals when a person experiencing homelessness is found on the street, we need to think about why that happened and remember that people have a right to declare where their home is — even if not a “typical” location.
There is a delicate balance in managing all the issues impacting hospitals, and things won’t change overnight or even in the next year. But ultimately, if we really want the situation to feel brighter and bolder, we need to take a step back and look at how we’re doing things. It will take a collaborative, all-hands-on-deck approach as we continue to work toward solutions that are practical and feasible for all different organizations and stakeholders.