Above the front door of my sister’s house hangs a sign that reads, “Gratitude is our dialect.”
This turn of phrase by which my sister’s family lives has become a mantra for me as well over the years.
In fact, through the challenges of last year and into this year, it has been my saving grace. There is no denying that we have been and continue to be surrounded by heartbreak every day. There are injustices to address, improve, and fix. Our world is full of people who are hurting. Sickness is everywhere. Gratitude can be difficult to come by.
Personally, as I have applied this mantra to my own life, it has became obvious that sitting in the negative space of sadness and hopelessness has a paralyzing effect on me. To move through this space, I recognize the privilege I have to prioritize things that bring me joy. I set about learning and questioning, reading and getting to know people. And, I make it a practice to reflect on that for which I am grateful every day. Somedays I am certainly better at this than others; but, no matter what, I always land in gratitude.
It is always at this moment of gratitude that I find myself propelled to continue working to make a difference, to move through the grief and sadness surrounding me and work harder for those who can’t.
This is one of the many reasons I love LVIM so much. By providing healthcare to those who have gone without, we are removing stressors from the lives of hardworking people. We help people get well and stay well so they can live their best lives for those they love and be part of the community around them. We make room for gratitude.
If we can use our gratitude to launch us forward, to give a hand up to someone who needs it, we can give the gift of gratitude – by way of good health – to many others.
As we reflect on the last year and plan for the second half of 2021, I am pleased to say that gratitude has been our dialect at LVIM.
In this month’s e-blast, I am excited to share four of the many things happening at LVIM for which I am grateful: Vaccinations, Volunteers, Vacations, and Vision.
Thank you for joining us on the LVIM journey,
Alice V. Koehler, MBA
President & CEO
In January, thanks to Lakeland Regional Health, LVIM’s patient facing volunteers and staff were able to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. This effort resulted in 90 fully vaccinated volunteers and staff which in turn allowed LVIM to begin the path to normal. We have expanded our open-to-the-public operating hours. Many of our volunteers have returned. Many clients’ whose annual health screenings were delayed due to government mandates have now received the screenings they need. Additionally, we hosted our own vaccination clinic at LVIM and were able to get nearly 70 of our own patients fully vaccinated by the end of June. We were even able to host a Publix Super Markets pharmacist at the June 8th Mobile Food Pantry and offer vaccinations to the greater community.
In the pre-COVID era, LVIM served our patients and fulfilled our mission with the dedication of roughly 300 volunteers. Last April, due to COVID-19, we were working our magic with only 57 volunteers. These 57 volunteers picked up extra shifts and extra work; some even volunteered from home. We have incredible volunteers who love this mission that provides primary healthcare to our community’s working uninsured. Today, we are thriving and are well on our way to operating with a full team. During this season, many students stepped up and answered the call to volunteer with us. A fun fact: 42% of our student volunteers are commuting from University of South Florida in Tampa just to serve at LVIM. Today, we have 168 active volunteers serving in both clinical and administrative support roles. They are all deserving of our unending gratitude. Thank you, Volunteers!
LVIM has an incredible staff, all of whom have worked tirelessly over the last year to ensure that we never skipped a beat and our patients continued to have access to high-quality care.
As an appreciation for staff loyalty, beginning in year five, team members are offered the opportunity to take a 40-hour sabbatical to explore something about which they are passionate. LVIM provides the time off, and the team member covers the expenses. At the end of their sabbatical, team members share their experiences and learnings with the rest of the team.
So far this year, two team members have been able to take advantage of this benefit.
LVIM Dentist, Kendrah Harper, spent her sabbatical at a yoga retreat in Greece.
Chief Operations Officer, Kim Taylor, explored the depths of the ocean on a scuba diving excursion in Roatan, Honduras. During this time, she completed her 200th dive!
Burnout is real, especially in human service professions, and especially on the heels of last year. It is so important to take time to unplug and recharge. It is our greatest joy to appreciate our team by giving them time to explore that which fills their hearts and souls.
One great outcome from the COVID-19 season at LVIM is that we had time to vision. While we were a little bit slower, we had time to pull back and think about our systems, policies, and pain points. I am happy to share a few developments that are taking root right now.
Next month, we will be launching a patient messaging platform. Our patients will now have the opportunity to receive appointment reminders from LVIM via automated, yet completely customized, text messages, e-mails, and voicemails. Our volunteers will continue to make person-to-person phone calls, but this new platform will allow us to work around common communication roadblocks which will, in turn, reduce our patient no-show rate.
Additionally, LVIM recently received an Empower Polk grant from the Give Well Community Foundation. We are thrilled to use these funds to build a patient enrollment portal on our website. This portal will be designed to streamline the entire onboarding process for our patients.
Lastly, we’ve now expanded our in-house lab services to five days a week. We have experienced an influx of new patients over the last months, but our lab was only able to operate part-time. We recently welcomed skilled phlebotomist, Jennifer Anderson, to our team which will more than double our capacity in the lab and decrease wait times for new patient appointments.