Heroes of Healthcare
Heroes of Healthcare

Episode · 1 year ago

COVID-19’s Impact on Under-Resourced Communities

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Bridging healthcare gaps in underserved communities comes with unique challenges, including socio-economic misalignment. In today’s episode, Rashard Johnson, President at Advocate Aurora Health and I unpack what this means and how they are addressing on the southside of Chicago.

We discuss:

  • The impact of George Floyd’s death on healthcare teams
  • Why underserved and black communities are at greater risk of succumbing to COVID-19
  • Pros and cons of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Heroes of Healthcare is hosted by Ted Weyn.

To hear this interview and more like it, subscribe to Heroes of Healthcare on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Heroes of Healthcare in your favorite podcast player.

You're listening to heroes of healthcare, the podcast that highlights bold, selfless professionals in the healthcare industry focused on transforming lives in their communities. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the heroes of healthcare podcast. I'm your host, Ted Wayne. In today's episode, I'm very excited that we're going to be able to touch upon a topic that we have not been able to hit man any sort of depth on the podcast, which is the racial tensions that are going on in this country while we're in the middle of the pandemic and how does that effect the treatment of service, the treatment of care, the quality of care, quality of care and marginalized areas. So it's my absolute pleasure today to be joined by Richard Johnson. Richard Johnson is the president of Advocate Trinity and south suburban hospitals in the South Chicago Land Region. Advocate Trinity is part of the Advocate Aurora health systems. Prior to advocate for Shad was in the Houston Texas area, where he served for three years as vice president and Chief Operating Officer at Cchi St Luke's health. Prior to Chi, Johnson served five years and the assistant vice president of support services for ut southwestern university hospital and clinics in Dallas. Johnson earned his master's degree and Healthcare Administration from the universe to your central Florida or I also understand he was a heck of a football player. He's a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the National Association of Health Service Executives. Currently serves on several boards, including the Greater Houston March of dimes, the Woodlands Family why MCA and the Chamber of Commerce. As we get ready to have this quite provocative episode, it is absolutely my pleasure to welcome Richard Johnson. Thanks to I appreciate you having me. Is excited to be here. Looking forward to him, my friend. Yeah, let's jump into it. Let's have some fun. So, if you can, I always like to start off with having the audience here a little bit about you, a little bit of your background, where you hailed from, where you grew up and what's gotten you into healthcare and why are you so passionate about healthcare? Absolutely, thank you. Thank you. Love it, love it. I am originally born and raised in in Miami, Florida, and Liberty City Miami to be exact product of a single parent household. My mother's a teacher, just raised my brother and I there and I and that that neighborhood really help shake me and for me and, to be honest with you, with you created created the man I am today and the executive I am and husband, etc. Is that background and just give it given me a lot of insight on what it is to serve under serve communities and those disfranchise. Having come from that background, being here in the South Sage Chicago gives me a chance to hit the ground running and really relate with some of the challenges that we have. Played Football at University of Central Florida. Go night shame with plug away slug away. You see you play. Was Blessed enough to play cornerback there and they didn't go on to the NFL to my dream. I had some injuries along the way that derailed me, but stayed and did a master's degree at central Florida and had an opportunity to do an administrative residency up under the CEO of the Miami va health system and then also a fellowship program up on the the CEO at Jackson Health System in Miami and that just springboard at my career to where I am now. So those were the foundational roots for me. That's great. So tell us a little bit about I know you spend some time in Texas and it's been clear that throughout your career, as I mentioned a little earlier, that you definitely have a heart for giving back and you've a heart for those communities. So what brought you to your you what brought you to the current facility that you're managing now? Yeah, there are a multitude of things that brought me here.

I was, at the time of market chief operating officer with hi St Luke's health down in the woodlands area, if you're familiar with Texas, about thirty thirty two miles north of Houston. Really loved it, loved the organization, loved my role and receive the call from advocate Aurora health as they were expanding and they were growing and they had recently merged, advocate did with the RAW. Advocate was in Illinois legacy and in the raw legacy is it was in Wisconsin. They merged and reached out because, you know, they felt this though I had what it takes to join the advocate of royal family. Thank God they were right. And you know, it was a president opportunity. So was that next step up for me and in a dream, a dream of mine, I had already already set my eyes on it. I wanted to become a president of CEO by the age of thirty five, which is a lot of people laughed at me when I was twenty four and I told him that. But advocate gave me that opportunity, leaving me at a very young age to take the role. And you know, when I came here and I had a chance to drive through the south side of Chicago at Advocate Trinity and then in the south suburbs at advocate south suburban hospital and the two hospitals that I am so blessed and fortunate and oversee, it was a no brainer. It was like looking in a mirror, you know. I I could see my reflection, I could see my community. I can understand the struggles and some of the pain and some of the lack of access from a healthcare standpoint or some systemic things that are structurally set up as obstacles for US achieving a better health I all of that resonated well with me and and for me it was a godsend blessing to have that opportunity to be at a president level, which is a dream job of mine, and to do it in a community that reflected, you know, who I truly am in my upbringing. I just saw that as a divine intervention, to be honest with you. So that's what brought me here. That's great, toe if, because, as I know a little bit about the woodlands area and know a little bit about the south side of Chicago, and those two areas care are little different. Yeah, yeah, well, I think if you talk to people that know me, they'll tell you of a little different as well. I can, I can go from the boardroom to the street corner and relate with people self. But now, and I love that, but I mean, but how how critical? Right, how important is that in the in your role? Right, it's very right, because because leaders in the hospitals, within communities like you're in, really you're all you are, or become. My guests would be, and you tell me if I'm wrong, but you know, sen, you become a bit of a community leader. Correct, correct, and especially in this role. You're spot on Ted in this role, the president role, which was different from me because, keeping in mind this is my first president, Roll Right, I've always been an operator, which is your heads down, you're in the building, you're making it happen, you're executing on all those initiatives that your boss give. You know, the president dreams up with the team, right, make it. Yeah, the execute. Go make it happen. You have to make it happen and in this role is definitely a lot more external facing. The fact that you and I have in this much needed conversation is a is a testament. Today. You know, it's external facing and you're dealing a lot with legislators, you're dealing a lot with community leaders, leaders of faith, and if you know anything about Chicago politics, then you know why they call it the windy city. So it's very robust. So I enjoy every bit of it, but it's all the challenging in is and it's great. But you're right, it's a distinct difference between the woodlands, which is an influent, extremely influent suburb, to where I am on the south side of Chicago, and even even the south suburbs, which does pretty well as well the south suburbs, but not the same as the woodlands. But I'll last thing I'll share about this head is that there are things that you can learn at all levels and in all situations that help shape you and you can apply them if you're willing to be flexible and willing to listen. And some of the things in...

...terms of how we generated revenue and margins enable me to bring that skill set here on the south side of Chicago and ensure that we have margins to meet our mission, because a nun once told me why is none? Once told me there is no margin, there's no mission, and so I use that mentality to help give to our mission, to provide the programs that we need to take care of our community. I love that and you know I can't I can't agree more. Having worked in some nonprofit situations in my career as well, we run into organizations who were all about ministry and we love their heart right, we love that that's where their passion was, but without the money there is no ministry and the more money you can get, the more ministry you could do. All right. So you know there is a means to an end there that you have to be mindful of. The when you are purpose driven, you know but that monetary side of it and the ability to raise funds or generate funds is critical because without them, you you just can't sustain the mission. A great great you have to focus on the why. You hit it purpose driven as long as you sent on yourself on the why, and that's something that my team and I talked about often, as one of the things that I love about our organization at advocate a royal health is there's never a day where we're not sent on the Y at the highest levels of our organization, and that makes my job a lot easier and makes the vision a lot more palpable as well. That's great. So I know there was a lot of things we want to talk about today and I said you will get off to it. I'll start a little slow and the next thing you know, the time will go away and we'll be like wait, we got more to talk about. So so let's do let's dive in a little bit and start to talk about, you know, obviously, staying with our team heroes of healthcare, we always want to continue to highlight those people who are selfless and putting themselves forward first, and I know you said you've got lots of stories and lots of people who fall into that category. And you know, one of the formats we continue to follow here a little bit, since we're just in the middle of a pandemic. So why not? No rules, let's keep going. But we're in the middle of a pandemic, so let's start backwards and let's talk about crazy to believe a year ago, right March of two thousand and twenty, we're rolling into a new chapter for everybody as we enter two thousand and twenty, and life throws us a curveball. But so tell us a little bit about what it was like at advocate in a urban center for you guys when this thing started to break out and nobody had answers. Man, I mean you mentioned curve ball. That resonated with him. You know my son does ten. You Travel Baseball, and it was more like a Randy Johnson curve. But I remember Randy Johnson's table exactly right, you know, huge curveball vividly. Remember it, vividly remember it. I remember being in the boardroom just just behind me here with my executive team and my physicians and I remember the looks on their faces as it was real and and it hit us like a like a ton of bricks, and we begin to see covid patients pile into into our ed and the patients that were coming into Ed, as you mentioned, on the South side of Chicago and South Chicago land. These patients were acutely ill. So they would come into the ED, they were going straight into the ICEEU. From the ICEEU they are going on a ventilator and once they were on the ventilator they weren't coming off the ventility. You know, they were leaving in body bags and as it was the first step to the last step, unfortunately. Right. Absolutely, absolutely, and so, to your point, things were changing rapidly and even information that we were getting from the government was iscilating it. You would have a meeting in your emergency incident command and sort of lay out the plays. I know you're a sports guy. will lay out the plays and then by the time noon rolls around, you have the audible again because they've changed. Yeah, and so you know, I remember focusing on, just as a leader, ensuring that the mental state of my team is...

...there, the mental state of my physicians is there, ensuring that there is calm in the middle of chaos. Are President of CEO here, Jim Scottsbury, had a great, great line that we use daily and is faith over fear, calm over chaos, and just in my head, you know, just over and over and over, reciting at and ensuring that they see me confident, they see me leaning in with them, willing to the walk, the walk to do whatever it is I need to do, and then ensuring that they knew, regardless of what, I was going to give my all and my team, we were going to give our all my executive team turn sure they had the resources necessary to do things, even if it means that we had to go against the grain somewhat. So those are things that really I mean, it resonates with me every day. Yeah, every day. So talk to us a little bit, share with some of them. You gave me some of the numbers in terms of what you guys were seeing, but it was amazing to me when you said that you had ninety five percent covid related. So you guys weren't doing anything, almost not doing anything but covid. And what were some of the things you were seeing from your team, the doctors, the nurses, the administrative staff, and that you were just blown away by yeah, I think there's there's a few things to it. If I had to hone in on it, ted honestly, it would be the sacrifice, you know, when you watch a group of ladies and gentlemen and risk their lives. You know, and I've played collegiate football at the High Division One, at the highest level, and you know what pressure is when you're when you're there and you're on ESPN and it's ninety thousand people in the you know, a pressure. I've never seen pressure like this, hmm, and never seeing at this level the intensity and what what's at stake, right. And so I think one of the most remarkable things that I've seen in sacrifice I made. I remember one of our nurses, single parent household and just her and and her son and her daughter, and she sent her kids off to stay with her mother WHO's out of state, because she didn't, you know, didn't want to bring risk bringing anything home to her kids. So here's someone that, and you know as a father as well, your kids are. I mean that's sure your heart and and you're willing to send your kids away in the middle of a pandemic, right because you don't necessarily know what the pandemic holds, even when you send them away. For them. Sure, because of your commitment to your team, to the community, to the south side of Chicago and to your passion of taking care of patients. And you're putting your life on the line, by the way, because everything's changing and we don't necessarily know how this thing is mutating and what's going on. We're sort of building the plane and flying it. Right, it felt like that, even though that that's Cliche, but it really did, and that was remarkable to me, especially from a single been in a single parent household, or he's a by my mother, to see a woman, and this is women's history month, to see, you know, women to do that was phenomenal. Yeah, it is. It just continues to amaze me, right because, like you said, you know, for all of us who have children, they are the most precious thing in our lives. And to say I feel a calling and I have to be here, you know, being called to do a mighty work, right, is that how it goes? Right, and so I'm being feeling that calling and, as we talked about earlier, the purpose it is right, and that's those are the things that we're leading people through I loved it. You said faith over fear, calm over chaos. What was leading them through those things was that feeling a greater purpose, that I've got a job to do and I've got to do it a great and as a leader you're motivated. But I mean, I was inspired by that. And the other component of it to Ted is through that inspiration and healthcare heroes are naturally built this way. We're in healthcare because we want to make a difference, we want to save lives, we want to change lives, we want to do things for the...

...better of people in general. That's what gravitates us to healthcare. Oftentimes we neglect ourselves during that Yep, in order to give to others, we neglect ourselves. And so a big part of my leadership was, and our leadership as a system was ensuring that my executive team and I hey, take care of yourself. Make sure you take care of the team that reports to you. Let's make sure we look out for each other. If we shot, I think you looking a little tired of your dragon. Don't worry about it, sleep, go home. Let me take the incident. Come in right, right, those types of things, because it wasn't a sprint. It wasn't even a marathon, it was more like an iron man. And we're still in it right, we're still in it, and so you have to so we were keenly focus and continue to be keenly focus on our mental state and just mental wellness rather. Yeah. So let's move forward a little bit now in time, and this is a part I wanted to talk about. So in the middle of phase one, will still call it, we're getting into the the summer, and not only are we dealing with the pandemic, but obviously racial tensions in the United States start to get into a new height. Or how did that impact your organization? How did that impact the morale, the mental aspect? You know, in one of the earlier episodes we talked about how Mount Cyin I how some of the administration felt that the George Floyd situation was a tipping point for mental fragility, for lack of a better term, where people saying, okay, I the pandemic is pushing me to my limit. Now this is really pushing me over the edge, you know, and obviously in such a deep racial area of the south side of Chicago, how did that affect your team? Your environment. What was the kind of just seemed, you know, when that broke out in the middle of the pandemic? Yeah, and I'll start with how it how it impacted me first and least. Will definitely get into to my team. As a proud black man, I was extremely hurt and distraught by what I saw, what I witness and you know, I share this and and I shared it on social media and also shared it with with my leaders at the system level because, in full transparency, I am who I am and I think as leaders you have to be authentic in all you do, and I couldn't. I felt the need, the need to speak up in terms of what we all witnessed and the impact get I had on me personally, and I share sort of the gut wrenching conversation and stories that I had to have with my kids. So I'm a father of for I have four beautiful kids from my two girls, two boys, my oldest daughter's thirteen sons, ten youngest daughters for and my youngest son is seventeen months and so, as you have you know, kids and my wife and I are sitting there and we have to have this conversation. Now my kids are are very fortunate and blessed. I have a great job, my wife has a great job. So they are growing up a lot more privilege this night and day compared it to liberty city, and for them a shot, a huge shot, right, a shocker to have this type of conversation and the witness that on TV be and you know, we had to have conversations around what it means. Yes, you're in you're in a fluent area. And yes, Mommy's and education executive. Dad He's a health care executive, and Mommy has two masters. Daddy has a masters degree. Yes, but outside of these doors or outside of these suits, you know, this is in certain areas in our country. This is what it is to be a black person in America. HMM, that's a big conversation. Yeah, one of the toughest things, especially when they're that young too, especially when right and especially when you've worked your entire life to ensure you know that they're in great areas, safe and go to great schools,...

...etc. And you have to have that conversation. So now keep in mind. You know, and I wanted to share that with our team and our leaders and everyone because I wanted them to know that under the suit. Isn't this teff on? I mean, I'm just like you, I'm human. I have a family just like your family, and everyone was having different conversations and their respective families and then dealing with a pandemic and then dealing with the term, all of past experiences or racial tension, etceter and. And I think you mentioned the sign that story, I mean, I think a spot on. It was like a tipping point, like okay, you have to release at some point, something has to come. So I appreciate the way that that we handled it our ortization with advocate of royal health. We embraced it. We of course denounced racism and social injustice and empowered our team to pack up. We did forms and where are persons of Color, Black Brown community, lgbt community, anyone that's ever felt marginalized, were there with our Caucasian white colleagues, and all of our colleagues were together and we did break out sessions where we had conversations around race, you know, and we were vulnerable to each other and we could ask questions like hey, you know, I may be white and I don't understand this. Tell me how you feel or shot those types of things. Yeah, and I think that helped us heal a lot, to be honest with you, you know, to sit down with your I mean we're a family right in the sit out with your family members and your brothers and sisters from different walks of life and have those conversations. We needed that in that moment and so I really appreciate how we handled it, because it was tumultuous and you saw all the uprising and up royal was going on and all the pain and anguish that was there and then and protesting that. I you know, I don't agree with violence, but I definitely agree with peaceful protests, you know, and and you saw it at and we needed and I actually took my kids and we were a part of some peaceful protests as well, just so they can experience that and that of which, you know, my grandmother, who still living, and our ancestors. Their the sendants I have fought so hard for to get us to this point. Yeah, I love that. Tokee count let's just go a little bit deeper with that and in a sense that you know, what were those conversations like? In other words, when you were bringing the team together and you had all walks of it in there. I said you before the call, I'm a privileged white man, so I don't pretend to understand. So I seek to understand. So I make no assumptions, but I'm always curious. I know at times I feel hesitant to ask questions because I don't want to offend. Correct but the only way to learn or to grow is to his to ask the questions and as long as you know the person's heart, then you can take where it's coming from. But how did you guys foster those conversations? Because they can be awkward, they can be difficult, they can be hard to say. You know, Rishad, as a black man boy, you angry about this, right? Or you know what really annoys you about this or, excuse the expression, what pisses you off about this whole ration? Yeah, no, so definitely content experts being there right, and we lean heavily on our diversity and equity and inclusion team, add and I team. We lean heavily on them. And it started with the top two, with our chief diversity equally officer Erica Joy Daniels, interviewing our president and CEO, Jim Stoggsburg, and I never forget their exchange because I helped set the tone, know, and he was vulnerable and you know, Jim mentioned. Hey, I can't similar you, taid. I'm a white guy and he grew up a lot more humble, though, and Iwa so little different than being privileged. But he does understand that he doesn't walk in the persons of color shoes and he was like, I was always raised...

...not to see color, and she politely told him, Hey, as an African American, a black woman, I want you to see color. I want you to embrace who I am, because I'm proud. We're proud of that, which is true. So it's being able to be vulnerable and to have those conversation and it was a learning moment right for him how it may be well intentioned but then how it's proceeds on the other side, and I just think those types of forms and we continue to have them. But there are I mean there were personal stories that I share in terms of being in Liberty City and Carol City, Miami and as a teenager, being pulled over by the cops and and profile and we were just normal teenage kids coming home from football game and a buddy of mine reach the unbuckled his seat belt and the guns were caught and loaded and pointed. HMM. You know vividly. You know stories. We share those stories. Several of my colleagues that have lived in the flooring areas share stories of them being profiled while jogging or walking in their neighborhood and in these things are real and these things happen, and so it was authentic and it needed. You know, it's on both sides of it is therapy on both sides as it's definitely needed. Yeah, no, I we can't hide from it. We got to continue to discuss it and, as we on the show we talked about, is the mental health aspect of all of it is so important. You know, as you said, being mindful to keep an eye on those people who were sacrificing so much physically to be there and working long shifts and all of that, but also mentally, how you doing? And you know, you got to keep that part or as healthy as the physical part of it, otherwise you can't do anything. Then you could, then you're of no value. Exactly right, exactly right. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. And I mean we did things like respite rooms and and we still have them now set up and our live well out. Another shameless plug allows you to go on there and do meditation and you can do its running water and I use it. I literally use it every day, whether it's a minute, three minutes, five minutes, ten minutes, whatever. I go on there and do that and we have those things set up and we encourage the other part is encouraging our team members, our physicians, to take time, take time off and when you're off like like take off. We're going to have a body system. Plug. That's right, unplug will have your back and that's hard to do. That's again it's hard and it's hard for me, but we had to master that because that again, it's an iron man. It's more than the marathon. Yeah, so let's while we're just talking about this, can you share a little bit what came out of some of those conversations? Obviously I don't want you to share anything that somebody you might have said or you know specifically, but what was the feeling from the community? Obviously, in terms of and I don't mean so much, we talked a little bit about the George Floyd situation in the frustration from the black community of feeling like when is this going to be over? When can this stop? Why does this keep happening? But how did it manifest itself into the hospital inform with the pandemic and with covid coming in? You know, I've heard things in the news and again, you know, I don't I'm not taking any of it for her for a fact, but there does seem to be frustration amongst the community. A disproportionate of African Americans are dying from covid yet we're not recognizing that. And what are some of the feelings that you're you were hearing then and how does that? Has that changed it all now? Yeah, for us. You know, let's keep it in mind that Covid we've been this is a conversation we've been talking about for quite some time in terms of like health disparities and inequities and just lack of access, etc. And structural systemic racism and things that have been is history. These are factual things, right and and it's something that we've had conversations around...

...and in particular, when you look at the south side of Chicago, we have the largest life expectancy gap in the country. And why you did a study a few years ago whereas you take the south side of Chicago Area Code. You know your life expectancy. Let's do it. If you go ten miles north, your life expectancy is ninety years old. If you're in the south side of Chicago and Tho Zip Coldes, it's fifty nine. Who Think about that? Yeah, it's that's not a it's not a that's not a few years, not a few ten miles right. So when you take on the pandemic and Covid, this unconscionable disease that we have it across the world, and you place that on places like the south side of Chicago where historically has been a lack of access, lack of investments and education or infrastructure, food deserts, I mean you name it. Lack of jobs, right, and good paid employment, because, as you know, employment leads the better housing opportunities, leaves the food least, the better health care least, the better education, and all those things are intertwined. They're they're not mutually exclusive. So covid shed light on what we've known all a while. It not only shed light, it was a spotlight like this creates the disproportionate death rates that we're seeing in persons of colors and minorities, you know, black and Brown people, blacks, Hispanics, you know. You know. This creates that over. Yeah, and I understand you, it kind of it gave a living example. So we've been talking about it, we've been saying we're marginalized, we're saying these communities have food deserts and they have less resources. They can't get to all the resources that other people do. And, whether you believe it or not, you hear about it. But covid, to your points, shot a light on it and said, okay, here's an example. We're living in exactly what we were talking spotlight, the brightest spotlight, because, think about it, the entire world it's impacted by this. So you can't and it's a matter of fact, not only is the world impact that the entire world is now shut down and quarantine, right, and all your focus is on how do we get out of this? Right, and all you see is the disproportionate numbers. I mean, and I share this with you a little earlier, you know, in my hospital, at one point the darkest moment that I've ever experienced in my career and in fact in my life for that matter, was sitting in this in this boardroom behind me with my executive team and realizing that, as the report was coming out from one of my my VP's for mission and spiritual care, that our more was that capacity and the funeral homes could not accept anymore and we needed to order a refrigerated eighteen will the trucks to hold the bodies. Yeah, that we have to put right outside of the hospital as our team members are exiting in there, and I mean, and these were people who look like me, HMM, weren't. So the data and the mortality, the numbers that are seen, those aren't numbers to us now. They weren't the numbers. You were living, you were carrying the bodies into is sucharation correct in terms of it was? It's not a data point for us now. This, this was our reality, right. This is what we're loving and I think that's why we're so passionate around, and I know you'll probably we're going to get there. But the vaccine and what it means for communities of color and what it means for all of us rallying to take it because we need it. Yeah, yeah, we need it. Sure. So let's fast forward a little bit and we can spend a little bit of time and let's talk about second wave. was there anything you know that second surge? was there anything post Thanksgiving that lessons learned? What was better? How did you see? What things did you see out of that? And then let's will transition right into the vaccine, because did that's becoming now another marginalized conversation. That's...

...becoming another political conversation and I've got some questions that I'd love to throw at you when we get there. But let's talk about second wave. They a second wave was so let me say this. When you when you go through that storm, we were a lot more prepared second wave. We had lessons learned. I had lessons learned, things that I could have done better, but we talked about me being an operator by trade and the cool and this was the first president role. And you ask specifically on external communication. Well, I locked in and I was worried about making sure the shot was running and I didn't communicate as much as I should have externally and I shared that with everybody because I think as a leader you gotta know you're not perfect. You got to be will them to tell people you make mistakes, and football helped create that, because in football everything is on the camera. So you can't even want you can't laugh. You once to the eye in the sky doesn't a lie, and then they'll show it to you. Is Six more times at a right in front, that's right in front of your teenage friends who can't wait the crack jokes on your right. Now you're on the Jumbotron, then you're roll. When you're on right, you're on the bed part of the ESPN highlights. It's all right, there you go. So I'm a custom to that. So I knew learning. Okay, I need to spend more time communicating with my board of directors, more time with the legislators, more time with the pastors of the churches, more time with the teachers of the school. Like everyone that's externally has to get a lot more communication for me, because they're looking at me as the face. Yeah, that's that's so. That's one. The other thing is we made some moves at advocate, whereas we were outsourcing PPE to China, and when China shut down, that adversely impacted us. Luckily, size doesn't matter and and you know we're twenty eight hospital system in Tusay, so we could lean on Wisconsin for certain things and lean on other areas of Illinois that may not have been as impacted as we were on that Chicago. So that helped. But what we did was we invested in Ppe Company, home grown here in the US, out of Texas, and then now we had stopper Ppe, right, because we didn't have to worry about so all those things help, right, and and plus, you know, you couple that with the fact that things weren't changing through the CDC and of the A. Everyone was on the same track. But I think the big part about ways too, that was our concern and what we were prepared for, is this flu, the flu season, as you know. So flu season comes around every year and that's a busy time for for any any hospital across the country. And when you think about pneumonia and cl or you think out some of those other things, it's a big deal. So we were our epidemiologists were categorizing this as a twin dimmi right. So you got you know, and some people will call it a tried dimmic, if you add the social injustice plus pandemic, plus the flu season coming. So it was a huge push for us to ensure that everyone received their flu vaccines, which we is mandatory here. But we took it a step further and we went out and provided flu vaccines for the community as well, because, as our mission is to help people live well and we knew that we needed to get out in front of this as as much as possible, as quick as possible. So all of our physicians, all of we did a lot more outreach from flu vaccine than just our employees, all of our patients, all everyone out of even out in the community. So looks take a minute and talk about that because it brings up a point in question. I'm curious to see what you saw. So I remember rolling into the fall and everybody saying, you know, now we're really going to get hit because we're going to have flu on top of covid her and I heard stories saying flu won't be so bad because we're wearing masks and we never used to wear masks before, so now we're not going to spread it as much. And then, most recently, somebody had shared that some of the data coming out of CDC around mortalities doesn't seem to be making sense, in other words, like they're almost no reports of flu deaths coming out of some of...

...the data and and I don't want to say CDC because I could be wrong, but what did you guys see? Did you see a diminished amount of flu? Did you see higher rates? Is Flu and COVID getting those lines getting blurred and overlapping? So that's a great question and, to be honest with you, I'm not the expert in that, but I work with the experts. You know, around around this were from our from our end, we were prepared to see a much greater spike. Now we're not. Well, we're just coming through flu season now, forgot is the year is flying. It's already bring you know, yeah, it's yeah, yeah, we are so mark. We didn't see as a robust flu season as we were prepared for. And on the same token, if we're really looking at it from us, from our perspective, and it could because we got hit really hard through the gate on the south side of Chicago, we were probably one of the first in the country to be slam like we were slam we didn't see the CODD number spike as high as they did during the first way. So those were all right and I, and I continue to hold my breath on this, because you never count your eggs before they hatch, you know, right, a count of chicken threefore the heads. But those are all positive signs for us. I'm going through it. So we you know, I don't know now. I can't tell you. Yes, this is called because of this and this. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I, like I know the answer to that. But it'll be interesting to see. It'll be interesting to see how the data comes out and how it flushes out because, right again, conspiracy theorists sit there and say, well, the government's counting everything is covid. Now every death is covid death, even if it's not, or if it's covid related death, and they're counting flu is covid. So it will be interesting to see how those numbers, yeah, shake out. So let's talk about with the time we have left here, let's talk a little bit about the vaccination. What are you seeing in southside? What's going and you know, the thing that I'm hearing, as again as everything gets politicized, is concern that the marginalized communities are going to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and that's not as good as the vaccine. So they're not going to give us, you know, they're going to give the not so good vaccine and you know, you just I just roll my eyes when I hear that stuff because it's frustrating that all the data and the facts aren't always out. But without me putting any more words in your mouth, why don't you share with us in the listeners kind of what do you what are you guys experiencing? Good and bad? Yeah, so the good part is, let me say, we have the vaccine here and it's rolling. We have Maderno, we have fires are and then we will be getting Johnson and Johnson and soon, and so being in a marginalized area where, you know, we had we have it, we have it. The bad part, so I've taken the shot as well, right, and I didn't plan on taking it right away. My Primary Care Doc and I release another podcast or around our my experience, and that that's a whole nother segment, but he really convinced me to take the vaccine. So you know. So let's let's talk about that, right. So, if you have hesitants, that's there at the president level. Imagine the hesitant that you have that is at other levels of the organization down to the front line who may not trust or sure, maybe I don't have a lot of information, etc. So what we're seeing on the south side is we're making a huge push to one embrace sort of the systemic challenges and racism that has been in medicine, from the Tuskegee experiment to a number of other things. I mean we can go down the line. You know, I shared a story with everyone and I and my son's baseball team. One of the parents great, great friend of my White Guy, we are very close friend, and we were having a conversation. He's like, well, we're shot. You're a president of the hospital and to hospitals and why don't you, you guys, just make...

...make it mandatory for everybody to get the Flu Vaccine? And I told him, well, it's because some people don't trust the vaccine, they don't trust the government, they don't trust the history and like my people, like black people, would it would not be good for right. And he was like, well, why? I was like, well, for one, there's a Tuskegee experiment in the first thing he said was we're shot. That was so long ago. Yeah, but then, you know, I have to explain to him my grandmother is still living right and it's not long ago to her, because the things that she's experienced in our country and from being the help and from picking and cotton then from being sick, these are real things that when we are at, you know, Thanksgiving and Christmas and and she's telling a story. I mean these are real, real life experiences. And he he was a Paul and he apologized and I was like, it's fine, you don't have to apologize. That's what diversity is all about. That's why we have to have diversity in the boardroom and people from different walks of life, because we won't make that mistake right, so to that in where I was going with that is is we are about addressing, you know, what's been out there, what's happened in the past. Okay, this is happened. This is how we address it. But as leaders of color, this is our store. This is why I'm taking the shot, this is why you should take the shot and this is why our physicians are taking the shot. And so I stepped up because there was a hesitants really to get on board and to the point that you made earlier, which was being disproportionately impacted by COVID and having chronic illnesses run rampant throughout our community with colpd and CHF and diabetes and hypertension. Yeah, we can ill affort not to take the shot right. So that's that's really what we've been focused on with our organization and then, and not only our organization but our partners throughout the south side, other other healthcare assets that we have has all been focused on getting that going. So if people in your community want to get the vaccine, they can get it right at your facility and they're scheduling and how are you handling that capacity right? That's a whole new other logistical issue, right, because you not set up to have thousands of people come through the doors for even even if it's for half an hour or an hour. It stakes on a whole other logistical thing, plus refrigeration. Again correct. So size and scale does help, being a part of a system, and so we have assets that we can do a hub and spoke. I have some really bang up CNOS, chief nurse and officers and sharing IAT and and Gwen Olgus be Oldham at Trinity and these these young ladies are they run they run the shop like they they source the team members and they're doing the logistics and doing all the meeting and it and so that that helps. And then the other component of it is keep in mind the vaccine distribution, and it varies from state to state, but are we have vaccine for trinity that comes from the city of Chicago and then we have vaccine for a South sub that comes from Cook County. And okay, in terms of the allotment that you receive, is based off of not only the demand but ensuring that we don't lose it any dose behind, right, and and we have a program for you senior sixty five and although that are within that tier can't come in. Then who we call into ensure that we don't waste this dose right, because your point, there's a time, a time frame that's there. So lots of logistics, lots of communication, oftentimes several times a day, and just team work. That's and that's that's how you make it happen. And just know two days are like and you have to be flexible and know that in life, you know, three things are guarantee you know, death, Texas and change. Gosh, so, so much to talk about and I know we're kind of running a little lot tight on time and I appreciate all the time you're giving, especially in the middle of everything that's going on. So thank you.

We will continue to talk you and I will circle back. I'd love to talk to you again, maybe in the fall and see how things are going and check in and and keep this conversation going. But before we head out, I always have my standard, you know, departing question, which is so growing up, current, pastor or present. Who is your hero? Who's the hero for Rashad Johnson? That's the undoubtedly. That's my mother. That's my mother, undoubtedly. And as a man now and a father for a husband, you know, I don't know how she how she did it in single parent household and a mother's teacher and and that's less than fifteen of what my wife and I are fortunate to bring in, and so for her to raise two boys and that type of an environment and then to go and get her master's degree, I literally watch my mother in the S and Miami get her master's degree. I was back then you can leave kids in the car. So brother and I was in the car and see at the very university in Miami to get a master's and I watch her improve our life, our lifestyle. Yeah, and that showed me the power of education. And she's always say education is the key. But seeing is believing and what I can see is close to closer to achieve and so for her to do that, it is driven me and she's just taught me so many life lessons. I mean it. Even going through this pandemic, I can remember, you know, ordering ventilators and they were saying, well, we don't necessarily need all of these ventilators, and and I and I shove them to story, my mother told me it's it's better to have and not need then to need and not have. Yeah, and so many different stories I could share, but she is undoubtedly my hero. I think God that she's still around and I spoil every chance, every chance I get, and I'm grateful to have a wife who appreciates that that relationship as well. And they get alone great. So and what's her name? Benny, Betty D Johnson, is my mom and my wife is done your Johnson. Those are my on my queen. So they meet, they keave me it's right. It's good to have some strong women around you. Right. It gave me folk got some good guard rails. That's right. Happy Women's history, Mont to. You know. That's that's all. That's awesome, that's great. Well, it was my privilege to have you on. Thank you for allowing me to be direct and ask questions and and seek to understand, and I think we need to continue to do that as a society. I heard an article recently and they said we've lost the art of civil discourse. Right, so I can't talk, we can have different opinions and have a conversation about it anymore. It's we can have a conversation and immediately gets heated or it gets personal. So let's cope that this conversation leads to some more civil discourse where we feel comfortable asking those questions of each other and being okay with that, that maybe, whether we agree or don't disagree with that answer, we can respect each other for having an answer. A great agree. I can't, can't thank you enough to have for this opportunity, powerful conversation, powerful podcast and for the work that you're doing to further the mission of uplifting our heroes on the front line. God bless you. I appreciate you and called me at any time. Our fraid I enjoy it. Thank you. Sorry, my privilege. I appreciate a going bye bye. You've been listening to heroes of healthcare. For more subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player or visit us at heroes of healthcare podcastcom.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (40)