Dear VNA Health Group Friends and Colleagues,
It was a sunny weekend with beautiful weather, a weekend I truly enjoyed with my wife and friends—adding to the fun, my favorite baseball team (Cleveland Indians) swept the Angels and the Yankees (all my NJ friends and neighbors favorite team) swept the Red Sox and drove them further back in the AL Wild Card Race (which is also good if you’re a fan of Cleveland). Admittedly, I limited my exposure to the horrific news of the killing and violence in Texas and Ohio—I watched and read some of the news coverage with a sense of sadness and anger, but I also tried to ignore much of the media to continue enjoying the sunny weekend.
Monday mornings have a way of bringing things into focus, and as healthcare and public health leaders it is impossible for us to ignore the tragedies of this weekend and the broader “portfolio” of evil that is in our midst. Of course, we share our thoughts and prayers of sympathy with the victims and their families—-and, we also reflect on the pain and loss related to other evils and associated tragedies in our midst that didn’t make the news this weekend but are nonetheless tragic. As an organization and group of people committed to caring, compassion, healing and comfort we are on the front lines of the other side of combatting these evils—be they hate, despair, racism, mental illness, greed and incompetence. On this Monday morning, let’s all reflect on how important our daily work is toward improving the world and fixing the damage that’s being done. May our efforts for a good and just society be strengthened, made more effective, and more impactful! Today, we ought to consider how to be better caregivers, better healers, better leaders and public health strategists, and better citizens.
On a more practical level, I also want to remind all VNA Health Group employees to take a “safety first” mindset and be sure to always be aware and up to date on the various safety related protocols in our locations and roles. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or your team leaders and managers if you have any questions about safety or emergency preparedness. In our clinical work and in our relationships with one another (and our families and friends) let’s be ever vigilant and skilled in our identification of hate, mental illness, and safety risks and violent tendencies, ideation, and risk factors—and then, “if you see something, say something.”
Part of the public and media dialogue today is about policy and politics—gun policy, mental health policy, immigration policy, law enforcement issues, and civil rights policy are at the forefront. VNA Health Group is a “big tent” of diverse caregivers and true heroes with many different opinions and perspectives on these issues. Our ability to make a difference, to improve the world, necessitates that we have all hands on deck and part of that charge includes remaining relatively apolitical.
However, my own personal plea is that all our leaders and commentators from all points of view to be more mindful of their tone, word choice, and rhetoric because I do believe that the tone of our dialogue can impact the behavior of the most fervent and aggressive and mentally unstable in our midst—I think some violent acts from blowing up a building or airplane, to shooting up a store or place of worship, to abusing prisoners or detainees can be facilitated in some way by language that dehumanizes and vilifies people we disagree with, or are afraid of, or are different. This happens with political violence and even family and school violence and bullying—I believe language and tone matters and it’s something we can fix and show our children a better way. In politics and other dimensions of our lives can we more often try to stand in one another shoes, try harder to see and highlight the good in one another even when there are profound disagreements, find success in compromise and win-wins?
Thank you for your continued commitment to the patients and communities we serve.