Christy's Installation Address at the GSHP Summer Meeting
Together Again! On behalf of the Board I would like to extend a sincere welcome to our GSHP Summer Meeting. We are thrilled to be back in person for live educational programming with the opportunity to connect in person for the first time since our Fall Meeting in 2019. I would like to thank Tom Johnson, Immediate Past President, of ASHP for joining us during this special occasion. In addition I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and recognize the GSHP Immediate Past President and new Chair of the Board, Susan Jackson, for her leadership, guidance, and support over this past year. Through the efforts of the Board and engagement and creativity of our committees, as led by their chairs, we were able to maintain a solid footing and maintain member engagement through a multitude of virtual continuing education offerings and monthly collaborative calls. Thank you to our industry partners for your continued support, even if it had to be shown from a distance. To pharmacists, technicians, and pharmacy support personnel across the state…. I would like to recognize you for your commitment, as always, to the delivery of exceptional patient care through what was likely one of the most challenging times of your careers. I am grateful beyond measure for each and every one of you.
1918-The most severe pandemic in recent history was caused by the H1N1 virus. As with the novel coronavirus there is still not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, but it managed to spread worldwide from 1918-1919 after first being identified in US military personnel in Spring of 1918. Over the course of the influenza pandemic it is estimated that 500 million people or 1/3 of the world’s population became infected with the virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million with approximately 675,000 deaths occurring in the United States. Mortality was high in people younger than 5, 20-40 year olds, and those 65 and older. They isolated, quarantined, emphasized good personal hygiene, disinfected, and limited public gatherings through social distancing. Sound familiar?
1918 was also the year that my grandmother was born…she raised my mother and her siblings alone as a sharecropper growing cotton in the fields of Pulaski County, Georgia. There are a few things that serve as shadows in my memories from her time here with us. She didn’t receive as formal education….I’m not sure that she could read…but she always kept a Bible in her hands. She lived a simple life…wood-burning stove in the middle of her living room, had her own hog pen and chicken yard, goodness, I even remember the day she got indoor plumbing. It would have been beyond her wildest imagination that one of her grand-children would be standing here today. Through the values she instilled in my mother, my dad is lucky to have her, we are all lucky to have her, I have found myself immersed in the most supportive family a girl could ever hope for. They are not here today but I would like to thank them for riding along on this professional and personal journey through life with me. I would also like to thank the guidance and mentorship I received in the early portion of my career and continue to receive today from Tad Gomez and Marjorie Phillips. Both emphasized and encouraged my involvement in professional organizations and have been my biggest professional advocates over the course of my career.
For me 2020, started with a trip to Vegas to ring in the new year and ended with a new vaccine. Who would have thought? Beyond my wildest imagination….Like many of you, I found my team preparing to deliver doses of hope to healthcare providers and patients across the state. For the team at Emory Healthcare that impact has grown to almost 180,000 doses. Just phenomenal! You might ask why I started with the pandemic of 1918. I did so to allow us to reflect on the grit and determination of the human spirt. There was no vaccine. No antibiotics to treat the complications of from pneumonia, no monoclonal antibodies or ventilators. They persevered. We persevered.
So what now? In my opening line I stated the words “Together Again”….but were we ever really apart? While we navigated our new virtual worlds, prioritized protecting the ones we love most, and served our patients and communities I would like to think that the shared circumstances we found ourselves faced with were actually bringing us closer together. Closer personally, closer as a society, and finally closer as a profession. As we look forward together as a State-Society, there are a few imperatives that I have identified as being key to our success.
1. Evaluating the Resilience of our Workforce- It’s been a long, tough year. There were concerns regarding provider burnout prior to the pandemic. Pharmacists, technicians, and our extended teams are not immune. The importance of connectivity, mentorship, and the deployment of evidence-based methods to identify and mitigate the impact of burnout are critical for our profession.
2. Incorporating the Principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion- It is my goal that GSHP strengthens our efforts in this space, not just with a focus on racial inequality, but to ensure that this organization creates a sense of belonging for ALL pharmacists, technicians, students, residents, interns and beyond across the state. No matter how big or small the facility, new or seasoned the practitioner, or the role being served in. We must also ensure that our organization has an active role in mitigating healthcare disparities for the underserved in our communities through awareness, education, and program development.
3. Refocus and Reimagine-It will be critical to leverage the experiences of this past year to refocus on reimagining the ways we deliver care to our patients. Practice model research, innovations in training and education, the deployment of artificial intelligence, transitioning from the tracking of interventions to measuring the impact on outcomes, and continuing efforts to extend the value of our services beyond the walls of our hospitals to our patients’ homes. These are just a few of the opportunities.
So how do we begin to tackle these? Where do we start? As Walt Disney was quoted to say “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”. I am humbled and honored to serve as your president of GSHP and look forward to working with you over the coming year.