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A Non-clinician's View - From Wingspread to...Where?

Posted By Bill Steger, Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thanks to Dave Seaburn for telling our story that began with Wingspread. We all need to be reminded of how this ball of energy started rolling. For me, what started as a part-time, strictly business, gig with the Collaborative Family Health Care Coalition (CFHCC) soon evolved into getting hooked on the passion and commitment of the people in the organization, especially the quiet but captivating nature of Don Bloch. Talk about ‘walking the talk', this group devoted countless hours meeting, writing, and pitching the organization to colleagues and students, collaborating with other organizations, and putting on bi-annual (initially) conferences with only volunteer time on a shoe-string budget, and one part-time staff guy. Truly amazing!

Today the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association (CFHA) is a membership driven organization but our coalition building has never stopped. Our conferences have grown as has our membership but, more importantly, the idea of collaborative/integrated care has caught on nationally and internationally. Many are now understanding that care delivery needs to be patient centered with considerations beyond just the medical or mental health aspects but the whole package, including the patient's living/support environment, or their ‘family' in an extended sense.

I guess that's where Family Systems Theory has played to our strength (here's where my non-clinical shows). In a role likened to Johnny Appleseed, we have been spreading the collaborative care model seeds, starting in Washington, DC and then on the road to Clearwater, FL, Chaska, MN, Seattle, WA, Newport, RI, Asheville, NC, Denver, CO, San Diego, CA, Louisville, KY, and Philadelphia, PA. As we move on to Austin, TX this October, the cycle then starts over with Denver in 2013, Washington, DC in 2014, and the process of harvesting hopefully begins.

In a role likened to Johnny Appleseed, we have been spreading the collaborative care model seeds...

What has changed since we started as CFHCC is the healthcare environment with pressing issues of affordability and access and a sense of urgency to deal with coverage issues at the federal level. There are also now a growing number of diverse organizations acknowledging that integrated care promises less overall cost and better outcomes. The collaborative/integrated ‘market' is getting crowded but we can take satisfaction in that this is probably because we have been true to our mission.

The challenge now is planning for what we should probably consider as the next phase in our growth. We are at the point of a typical business life cycle where the growth curve becomes steeper in a shorter period of time. We have an increasing base on the membership side and we are evaluating an increasing number of collaboration opportunities with other diverse organizations on the coalition side. Another aspect of our growth is our expanding ‘staff' including Steffani Blackstock, another part-timer managing our conferences, and the addition of a part-time Executive Director, starting with Steve Snow, to Randall Reitz who significantly increased our productivity, to our newest and almost full-time ED, Polly Kurtz who will be the enabler of our next phase of growth.

So, what is our future? That will be determined by our membership and the wisdom of our leadership. The opportunities appear to be many, the need is certainly there, and there is the desire to be relevant. Volunteerism still is the linchpin of CFHA and as we head down this road to the future, there are still some seats up front. Become involved if the spirit moves you!

Bill Steger, MBA has been the Business Manager for CFHA since 1998 with past relevant positions as Director of Marketing and Oncology Department Manager for Highland Hospital of Rochester, NY and Operations Manager for Highland Family Medicine. He is a principal in Quality Services & Products, LLC, a business management consulting company.

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Jennifer Hodgson says...
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2012
Few know and understand that the passion of CFHA is housed in the commitment to the staff. Bill Steger you are one of the reasons we have remained on a steady course. While the leadership is critical, the stability of the staff is essential.
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Ajantha Jayabarathan says...
Posted Sunday, January 29, 2012
Bill and Randall are the two individuals that invited me to join the membership committee when I attended my first CFHA conference in Kentucky. I believe my "apple tree" is in good health and growing well. What is unique about CFHA stalwarts like Bill, is that they not only plant the apple seeds, they water and nourish them to grow not only apple trees but more Johnny and Jane Appleseeds!!!
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