Joanne's Journal - March 2018 | D-H Stories | Dartmouth-Hitchcock
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Joanne's Journal - March 2018

Joanne's Journal - March 2018

D-H Health and Wellness introduces a new feature called Joanne’s Journal, a compilation of messages from Joanne M. Conroy, MD, CEO and President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H). Joanne’s Journal reflects Dr. Conroy’s thoughts and opinions on a wide variety of topics affecting the health and wellness of our communities.

Building Vital Communities

I recently had the opportunity to be very impressed by the thoughtfulness and community spirit of the CEO Council that is part of Vital Communities. 

Vital Communities is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in White River Junction. The group is dedicated to engaging citizens and communities in quality-of-life issues in the Upper Valley of NH and VT. Vital Communities began in 1997, when the League of Women Voters of the Upper Valley spun off its Upper Valley: 2001 and Beyond project into "Vital Communities of the Upper Valley." Dedicated to social, economic, environmental and cultural issues, the group began three programs: Community Profiles, Valley Vital Signs and Valley Quest. In 2001, they added the Upper Valley Transit Management Association and two other smaller organizations. 

The CEO Council is focused on addressing affordable housing in the Upper Valley. I have heard many stories from employees who commute 45 minutes to 90 minutes because we lack affordable housing options close to Lebanon. Fathers and mothers do a child handoff in the hospital and in parking lots because they both work here but live too far from home to do anything else.

This situation affects all employers in our region. It also impacts the economic viability of our communities. I am kind of over talking about how we are getting older and smaller…I want to do something about it. These leaders do as well. 

Access to affordable housing produces important benefits for communities:

  • It improves education outcomes, increases health and wellbeing, boosts economic activity, and can lower social service costs for the state and local governments.
  • Access to affordable housing improves education outcomes by reducing the mobility of low-income families.
  • Affordable housing improves resident health by reducing exposure to environmental hazards and frees resources to pay for health expenses and food.
  • The construction of affordable housing generates jobs, taxes and economic income.
  • Affordable housing yields an increase in regional competitiveness by lowering local housing costs and increasing employee retention.

The CEO Council is looking at the needs and obstacles to building affordable housing, close to public transportation, jobs, shopping and professional services. They are committed to digging into the challenges that affect every employer in the Upper Valley. We have a deficit of close to 6,000 housing units in the Upper Valley. The good news is that over the next 18-24 months, 500 units will open in Lebanon alone. Dartmouth- Hitchcock, along with other community leaders, is trying to be a partner not just a beneficiary of this effort. This is an example of a social problem that cannot be solved by one entity, no matter how much money or well organized they are.

I do believe that this is an example of important community work. The creation of vibrant communities close to our facilities creates positive work environments for our employees and eventually shifts the trends of diminishing and aging demographics.

A Commitment to Diversity

Recently, I had the honor to co-author the article, “The case for women executives and a second shortlist for Bezos, Buffett and Dimon,” with Fawn Lopez, the vice president and publisher of Modern Healthcare. [Read the full article here]. In this article, we discussed the importance of providing women executives with the same opportunities as their male counterparts and the continued need to have conversations about equality and eliminating unconscious bias in decision making.

Amazon, Berkshire-Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase created shockwaves last month when they announced plans to launch their own health care company. And on March 8, they created even more buzz when news spread that a search was underway for a CEO to lead the joint venture. Although the group has pledged to cast a wide net in its executive search, the reported short list of candidates were all male. Is it right? Is it fair? Of course not, but bias exists.

That announcement was incredibly shortsighted given the significant role female executives play in shaping an industry that accounts for nearly 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. The #MeToo movement has put the unequal treatment of women in the workplace in the spotlight. Since October, when the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, there has been a 41 percent jump in instances in which female candidates were selected over male candidates for executive-level jobs according to some search firm sources.

We can’t miss the opportunity to look to women leaders who understand both the health care business, as well as the consumer aspect of delivering care. According to research in 2016 from NRC Health, 78 percent of women say that they make the health care decisions for their families, and it has been demonstrated that engaging women as decision makers improves health for all because they have a different definition of “health”: most define it as both physical and emotional wellbeing. Women health care leaders have a unique perspective on connecting both the business and consumer side of this new health care market.

Make no mistake—to be successful in today’s world, it is imperative that workplaces reflect today’s world, and that means hiring the best candidate for the position and striving for balance: male and female.

At Dartmouth-Hitchcock, we are focused on creating a diverse team of health care executives who will establish a powerful track record of accomplishments. Whether at home, at work or in their communities, these men and women, from all walks of life, will push through obstacles, solve problems holistically, accelerate collaboration, and forge relationships and networks. The only way to be successful is to break the standard mold that’s dominated the way we have always done things and to build our new future way of working as both a team and an organization.