Since 2011, the Sarasota County Health Safety Net System of Care Collaboration (SCC) has continued to preserve the quality of care provided to the uninsured and underinsured citizens of Sarasota County. This collaboration among Sarasota Memorial Health Care System (SMH), Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (FLDOH) and Senior Friendship Centers has persevered and even excelled during this period of rapid change.
- Four years ago, the leaders of the SCC included Bill Little (FLDOH), Gwen MacKenzie (SMH) and Bob Carter (Senior Friendship Centers). Only Bob remains in his position (Bill retired and Gwen moved), and yet, with Chuck Henry (FLDOH) and Bill Woeltjen (SMH) joining the team, no beat was skipped.
- Four years ago, the Affordable Care Act was something yet to be implemented.
- Four years ago, Sarasota was in a deep recession. There was a concern for the local sustainability of the health care safety net.
Despite these and many, many other changes, the collaboration continues to seek ways to work together to improve healthcare in our area. How is this longevity possible?
The duration of the SCC can be attributed to the five tenets upon which the collaboration was formed: Leadership, Willingness, Readiness, Capacity and Culture (learn more about this here). Each organization is aligned in these 5 areas and this alignment has continued throughout the initiative.
This alignment has been supported by an operational structure that has created a “direction” for the initiative. Erica Barrett, a consultant to The Patterson Foundation, joined the team 1.5 years ago to help the SCC continue to progress. Her work with the work groups and the Steering Committee has provided the structure necessary for balancing the work and the necessary expertise for each issue. (During the past four years, there have been eight work groups which have included representatives from each organization.) Erica’s role as the consultant has allowed me the opportunity to be an active member of the Steering Committee where I am able to approach issues in an objective manner.
Like any ongoing project involving multiple organizations and individuals, the progress has ebbed and flowed as urgency and time availability have fluctuated. The New Year began with a Steering Committee meeting and an All-Participants meeting to determine the objectives and priorities for the SCC in 2015.
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