Heroes of Healthcare
Heroes of Healthcare

Episode · 1 month ago

Creating Stronger Communities with Quality Health Services w/ Dr. Tollie Elliot Sr

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Good health is becoming more complex in today’s world and patients are looking for doctors who can treat more than just the immediate ailments they’re experiencing.

In today’s episode, we’re joined by Dr. Tollie B. Elliott Sr., Chief Executive Officer of Mary’s Center, to discuss his pivot from school teacher to physician and the dynamics that come into play when delivering passionate care to marginalized communities. We discuss how to treat individual “participants” (as Mary’s Center refers to their patients) through whole-life health.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Pivoting into healthcare from education
  • The social determinants of health
  • Nuances of treating marginalized communities

To hear this interview and more like it, follow 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.

There's a study years ago that was done where it's a patient walks in a doctor's office and a doctor interrupts them within seventeen seconds of the of the encounter right. And so I think the number one thing that we do is we make sure we try to listen to the participant and understand their means. 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. On today's episode we're joined by Dr Elliott. Dr Elliott is the Chief Executive Officer of Mary's Center Health Care System Servicing The Washington D C Metro area. In this episode we're going to have some great conversation around servant leadership and how a small gesture can lead to changing the trajectory of someone's life. Also how healthcare isn't just treating the ailment, it's about whole health of the patient or, as Mary Center refers to them, as the participant. Mary's clinic serves the majority minority population in the DC area and Dr Elliot and I discussed the dynamics that presents when delivering compassionate care. Dr Elliot holds a Bachelor of Science from Howard University and a post baccalaureate degree from Fisk University. He attended Howard University College of Medicine and obtained his doctorate of medicine degree in two thousand he completed his residency at the Department of sectrics and gynecology at Georgetown University in two thousand four and was named outstanding senior resident in Gynecology. Dr Elliot received his board certification in two thousand and eight. He has committed to community development, having taught at the Prince George County public schools and served as director of Mentoring Program for at risk youth early in his career. He enjoys family life, music, travel and, prior to joining rejoining the Mary Center, Dr Elliott worked at Providence Hospital in Washington D C, where he was a staff physician and chair of the O B G Y N Department. It's my pleasure to welcome Dr Elliott to the heroes of healthcare. Well, welcome to the heroes of healthcare podcast, Dr Elliott. Thanks for joining us. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Yeah, I think we're gonna get into some other UH, some some great topics today, some current event things that are going on and and stuff. But, Um, I'd love for you maybe just to open us up and tell us a little bit about how did you get into healthcare? What, when did you know you wanted to get into healthcare? How did you get into healthcare? Some people say, how do I get into this crazy business? But, uh, I want to share with the listeners, you know, a little bit of your story and how you got here. Yeah, I think that you know, I guess now, at the tender young age of fifty three, you have a chance to look back at what are the pivotal moments in your life and and you wonder if it's this one particular moment, but I think it was a series of events. Um, I was very fortunate too, uh, grow up in a family that had a lot of educators from way back in the early D Um Black family from Oklahoma and Um, my mother is from Texas my father's side they were educators and certainly from there, um, they became doctors and lawyers and stuff like that. And so people that were just you know, Uncle Harry, Uncle Bill, aunt Dottie, those people were just like normal relatives. And then you, as you get older, you begin to find out, Oh wow, that's what they do, and so you realize that these people who are just like you, Um you soon realized that you could be just like them, and so that kind of started this process subconsciously. You know that I didn't realize that that was really occurring because even as a kid running around in the nature center behind the House doing certain things. You know, back in the day when in the seventies, where kids parents could let the kids run all over the place and you had no idea how crazy that was. And so I think I was always drawn to science because it just made sense. And then as I as I got older, you know, you start getting into the more structured things. I actually started off as an engineering major and Um hit higher level of math and I said yeah, no, that's not for me. So it's so my friends and I went to Howard for Undergrad and my friends thought that I was jumping from the frying pan into the fire when I switched into zoology. But it just felt like a much more natural space. And so over the years you have these Um relatives and friends whose parents and siblings that were in healthcare. That it. You know, it does sound Cliche, but if you can see it, you can be it. And so I saw and had the opportunity around people that to me we're just normal people, right. They you know from a distance, their icons in your own mind as a child, but then you begin to learn that that they're just like you, and so I think that that was probably the seed for everything and I was very fortunate along the way to have people that Um believed to me, sometimes even when I didn't, and gave me the encouragement to say look, you know, it's...

...not that bad, it's not that long, just go ahead and do it. And and I you know, there's a list of names that are longer than my six FT tall. So there's a list of names and size ten font that I could probably list that have contributed to this, but definitely it's there. Plus, my mom is a retired physical therapist and so she was in the health sciences and so to me, you know, she's very much about physiology and kinesiology and the human body. And and again I was just around this. So that kind of felt like a natural fit. It didn't feel like a far away thing for me. Well, that I mean obviously right. We all have those people in our lives and, as you said, as you you don't, you may not see them at the moment when you're in it, but then as you start to you know, get older or step away, you start to realize the influence. One of my favorite quotes, Mark Twain quote, was when I left my home at fourteen and returned to twenty one, I couldn't believe how much my father had learned in seven years exactly. That's a great quote. That's a wonderful quote. Yeah, so it's a different perspective and we look at it differently and we appreciate them as we get later in life. Um, take me a little bit back. Shocked, not not I shouldn't say shocked, but surprised. It was neat. You actually started also teaching high school, uh, for three years. Was that during medical school? Was that before? When was that part in your career? I would be impressed if any person could teach and do med school at the same time as a high school teacher. At being a teacher is hard work. I mean it's incredibly hard work, undervalued work at that. Too Right. And so Um. Now I I had Um. I went through college, set out a semester due to finances, got back in, Um was, you know, started thinking about med school, but knew that I definitely wasn't Um. I needed to do more prep work, I needed to improve my background, Um, and so I ended up Um asking. I was actually thinking about working in D C public schools. And and somebody told me about Prince George's county and I, you know, like I said, I went to Howard and I went to found my way to the recruiter for Prince George's county public schools. His name was Ed hose and I walked in the office and I said, I went the black school you have with the worst reputation, and he looked at me. He said, excuse me, what? And it's usually they usually the opposite right, right, exactly. And so it was more so because I, you know, I wanted to teach science and you know, I I um. It turned out that they placed me at Putna high school and and and I don't think it was the worst school with the worst reputation. I just think that there is a need and and and the thing is is that there's so very few, uh, male science teachers, just, let alone blackmail science teachers. Let on, somebody walks in that's like a twenty three years old saying this is what I'd like to do. And so I taught High School of Prince George's county for three years. Um, uh, chemistry, Earth Science and biology. And if I'm right, that's in Maryland, correct, Prince Roge's county, Maryland. It was located in Temple Hills. Um, I was the soccer coach. I was the JD baseball coach. I. Um, for two of those three years I led that risk mail youth program we had an adopted road where we clean up the road. Um. It was just a wonderful experience. Well, and obviously what I love about your spirit is that those influencers you talked about earlier and Um, and you know, and probably your mother also, sounds like you, you, at a very young age, had a had a spirit of giving back or serving the less served. Yeah, you know, it's I think it's it also comes from a sense of community, right. And so I I grew up in in in silver spore, Maryland, Wheaton, in a space and time where, you know, in the seventies, where doors weren't always locked, kids could go in and out of other people's houses. It wasn't like somebody was you know, you weren't on a ring video and somebody's saying somebody's breaking entering and calling the cops. I mean it was a sense of community and, Um, I would also say, you know, going to Howard was very much, Um, a huge impact in terms of seeing what's happening with the Black Aspera or the African American de Aspera and seeing what's happening in the communities that that, quite honestly, have just long been, Um, not recognized for the value that they bring, and also recognizing that you're never going to be able to make an impact unless you go back and do something about it. So, Um, it was just this wonderful experience. As I I wouldn't say, Hey, I want to get back to the community. It's and you know, it just kind of fit. It just felt good and it felt like you're having a purpose. Yeah, well, and that purpose is big. We know that. We hear about that more and more. But you know, without purpose we're kind of lost and you know, we see that in the elderly and we see that in in the youth as well,...

...and so I think that that's uh, the fact that you had that purpose, uh kind of rudder or or North Star in your approach. Obviously obviously Sir served you well. So you went to Howard undergraduate and, Um, I also believe, did you. Did you go? I'm I apologize. Where'd you go for medical school? Howard also, I believe. Yeah, I uh. We talked about Dr Sandra Ford and she was right around the same time and she's been on the show too and she was a Howard Grad as well. Yeah, yes, I actually Um went to Undergrad and Howard. Taught High School for three years, went back to school for year at Fisk, look like a self made post back laureate program and then Um Gott into Howard and and thoroughly. You know, some people talk about the horrible trials of MED school. Actually enjoying it. Med school was great. Well, you were also the same one who just went into the Prince George's county and said give me the worst school. So it sounds like exactly. It sounds like a repeating pattern here. Yeah, Glutton for punishment. Maybe that's my five kids right. There you go. There were the evidence is building there you go. Yeah, so, Um, so, tell me about some of the influencers you had in at Howard, you know, and again, I think you continued to hear. You know some of the things you told me from our our pre call. You know some you had some influencers there as well who were very continued to sound like to continue to probably affirm your beliefs or what you have been taught prior. I was actually on Um. After I taught high school for three years, I went back to school, like I said, at Fisk and um I well, before I even got to Fisk I had been teaching. I had absolutely loved it. Um, one of my best friends fathers, who was an O B g y N. Um, you know my parents. Do they check in with your kids? You know your kids friends. and Um, I had been on the alternate list to get into Howard. UH, not once, but twice. Actually this is the second time and I didn't get in and Um my friends said, Hey, you know my dad's aid. Give him a call, and so I did and he's like look, you know, if you want to go to med school bad enough, I'll pay for you go back to school. And I was like all right this, is this a joke? I mean, what's going on here? And he was like no, he's like, listen, you know. The only I said, well, do I need to sign anything? You contracts? Like shake your hand and shake your hand, shake my hand if it make you feel any better. But the only thing I ask of you is that when you find yourself in this position later on in life that you do the same. And you know, yeah, exactly. And so he uh, that conversation is on a Wednesday. Like by Saturday, you know, my little old jeep wrangler was packed and I was on the road to Nashville and and I spent a year there in a self made program and then I had now was on this alternate list a second time around. The first year I applied, I didn't even get in. The second year I applied, it was an alternate list. Didn't get in. Third Year I applied alternate list, and it was like at this critical point in the summer where I'm like, okay, I've done extremely one of these classes. You know, I don't have a solid you know say yes in my hand. And so, Um, I called up you know, a lot of times, you know, you need someone to advocate for you. So I called up a friend of mine's father who is a dentist, and I said, you know, Um, the first person that sent me down there was Dr Malone over you wanted Colonis Georgia. The second person I called is a dentist. This is Dr Dr Mohammed, and I said, Hey, Dr Mohammed, Um, don't I don't know if there's anybody you know get to peak up on my behalf or, you know, is anything you could say? And he was like, well, you know, let me give Lasala call. Now, Losala fall is like this icon of Howard. He's like this incredible cancer surgeon that, Um, if I'm correct, he got into mid school like maybe like eighteen. I think he was done like maybe years old, and he graduated from Howard in and practice pretty much all the way to I think, maybe two thousand and six. and Um, you know, I was just like well, whatever you could do, that would be great. And that that call was like on on Wednesday. I had finished the year. I was working in some temp agency trying to figure out what was going to happen. and Um, by Friday around noon, Um, and this is obviously before paid, this is before cell phones were all over the place. I mean I had a page where it was like nineteen nine, it was the summer of nineties six and Um, my pages just like starts blowing up, going crazy. And so,...

...you know, my sisters like Hey, you know Howard called? And I was like, well, they didn't call to see I'm still an alternately, listen, I'm trying to they're trying to be optimistic. And so I called him and they were like, congratulations, you know, we're calling let you know that your name has been pulled from the list and we need like a hundred and fiftyed all the deposits to secure your spot. And I was like, thank you so much. I um got on the phone with my dad and I it wasn't even like hello, I was like, I need you to do one thing for me right now, and and he was Um, he made the deposit and you know, Um, you know short they acted that I was admitted into me Harry and Dr Malone Um isn't a Harry graduate. And so I actually told him, I was like, listen, you know, I have two choices now, which previously had none. and Um, you know, I know how much it means to me that you out of your way to help me get, you know, to where I'm right now. Um. So I'm really kind of struggling with this decision. I mean, granted, I'd love to be at home and everything else. He's like, listen, go with the first one of that asked you to dance and so, Um, and so that was it. And so that I ended up at Howard and and uh, it's it's just been a great experience since then. Wow, that's great. Yeah, I mean it's Um, I mean I love your story because you continue to represent that we need people in our lives. You know, sometimes I get frustrated with my kids because I'm like just ask, you know, like you know I texted them and I didn't hear back from them, you know, and that sort of dynamic that goes on and you're like, well, just pick up the phone and call and ask them all. I don't want to bother them. It's such an interesting dynamic with the with the with the the this generation. But you know, obviously you're using that network and saying just make the phone, call and see, and you know, you know you can't, you can't lose. All they can say is no and everything. You know, but people obviously believed in you or and we're willing to invest in you. And, uh, you know, and that's those are sometimes just those are the breaks or the one or two yeses or opportunities or doors open that people need to just make a difference in their careers or their paths or where they go, whether they become a doctor or where they become, you know, an auto mechanic, but they just sometimes that that door open changes the trajectory of their life. Yeah, definitely a lot of humble pie, but you have to eat, you know, you have to be unashamed at asking people for help, because people actually do want to help each other. And you know, and like you said about your kids, I too say the same thing. I was like you lived with me, I mean you have, you have direct access to me, like any other person on this planet, and so I remind them of that on a regular basis. Yeah, right, I'm upstairs. You don't need to text me, you can, you can expel or come find me. Right. Um. So, so you finish, Howard, and then know you, Um, worked at a couple of different health systems before you ended up ended at the Mary Center. I think you were there, went away and kind of came back, Um, but you know, so for time tell tell me a little bit about Mary Center, the work you guys are doing in the O B G Y N Group and you know, what are some of the things you're doing. Obviously you've come through covid and Um and I know you've also mentioned the the changes that are happening for you guys with Tella and your use of telemedicine sort of things. So, yeah, share with the listeners some of the unique work you're doing and what are you seeing in the communities? Yeah, Mary Center, Um, we're in our thirty fourth year. Um started off with a grant of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars from the District of Columbia to support a nurse who was working with the Department of Health who saw that women from war torn Central America who were pregnant we're just not having access to resources and services that they needed most, notably prenatal care, and so it started with that grant to support two hundred women with the midwifree care model and to at least get them to the point where they could eventually, you know, enter into a hospital for delivery. And excuse me, the the hospitals, providence hospital at the time as the oldest hospital in the city. It's a it's a Catholic hospital. Marry Center is not a faith based organization. Um, the name just fit. and Um, what has grown from? You know, you you have babies, you need pediatricians, you have families, you need family medicine and and you have children and families and next thing you know, you need dental care. And and what has grown from two hundred women in has developed a roughly sixty tho individuals across D C in Maryland. And we have um medical, dental behavioral health. We have a charter school. Well,...

...that's affiliated with us. I. I. I frequently have heard it as a Siamese twin. They um came alongside enjoyed Merrison, our believe in ninety nine and so we they are their own separate entity, but we share certain resources from the medical side. Um, like I said, macwifery, O B peeds and town medicine and Family Medicine, infectious disease. Um, we have a geriatrician that we just brought on board. We have a pharmacy, we have a clinic for lowest snography or low level snography is not high risk. Um. We have um on the Donald Services Um at three different sites and there's three sites in the district across all sites for clinical two sites in Maryland. Like I said, dentistry is at two of the district sites one of the Maryland sites. Um. We have a large, large social services program programmatic element to it that supports everybody that comes through. We don't necessarily call patients patients. They're called participants because they really are entering into a system and we are actively engaged with them and we participate in their care. Um, we were. It's not so. Sorry. So it's not it's not just treat issue. It's a it's a more I don't want to use the word holistic because that is a different word, but it's a more of a full health care service view of the individual, not like I've got a I've got a toothache or I've got an arm ache or an ear ache or something and we'll treat that. It's more about how are you healthy altogether? Yeah, we look a lot of at at social determinants of health now, but it was really looking at social determinants of health back then when it started, and so um we refer to it as looking at the social change model and how you make an impact on a person's life, a family, the community at large. Um. And it's if you look at it like a three prong stool. There's health, there's education and then those social services. Um. We have an affiliation with the District of Columbia to manage to senior all the centers as well, and in our favorite health we have roughly twenty six school based mental health specialists and we have another school based health center. Um. We're constantly thinking about how we can do better. I guess you could say we are our own worst critic. We don't feel as though we're always doing something where we needed to be. So it kind of gives us that drive on a regular basis. Um. With respect to telemedicine, we had kicked around the idea. We were approached by an M C O in the district about coming up with a strategy to help with high cost high utilizers, and so we developed this this model of care um where at the time we just called the telemedicine but, due to the pandemic, has not been morphed into known as facilitated telemedicine, and that started in two thousand and seventeen, and so by the time the pandemic hit and we did a hard pivot in March Eighteenth, two thousand twenty, we had already gotten ourselves to a space where we didn't even consider high wearing any position or provider who was not comfortable with with telemedical services Um. And so the close of twenty, and I mean and it was, it wasn't like everybody's like yeah, this makes sense. I mean it started off in people like, well, now this isn't gonna this is gonna work yeah, or or they were even saying what is it exactly? Exactly. So it's a it's a pretty robust system that that Um. We are constantly seeking areas where we can support the individual and also have partnerships with other organizations and other health centers to make sure that if we can't do it, then we definitely know where to send that that participant and if they can't do it, we want them to understand that we're here for them. And so it's I think that's the best part about this is that that that the center of everything. The patient is there and we're all just collaborating around them. Yeah, I love that. So so, man start, you start two or fifty dollar grant and for people, and now you've grown into this, you know, major healthcare organization system serving, like you said, Washington D C in the Maryland area. Um. What do you I mean? What was the big what was the big driver, I mean, or where? Where did that growth come from? You know what, what do you think Um spurred such such an overwhelming growth and and success? You know, I think there's a study years ago that was done where it's a patient walks in a doctor's office and a doctor interrupts them within seventeen seconds of the of the encounter, right. And so I think the number one thing that we do is we make sure we try to listen to the participant and understand their needs and also, even if they are basketball, because we do have a lot of you know, to two thirds of our patients are Hispanic and then the next largest group is African American, and so we do have a lot of immigrants Um that do come to see us and, depending on where they're coming from, they are used to the very paternalistic space where they don't they feel bashful about expressing their needs to the position because they feel as that should be told what they need to do as opposed to be...

...engaged in the care. And so and many times it's extracting it out of the participant indication that's with us, as well as leaning into the staff to say, Hey, what are you seeing? You know, are there things here that we can do better? Because it's it's classic. I mean, you know, I was at Providence for ten a half years as a as a hospital based practice, and a woman comes into the office, you see them and you can't address food in security, you can't address domestic in our intimate Parker islance, you can't address other issues that they're having with their children that are might be a behavior health issue. And so you know, these kind of things that that you see. When you come into Mary Center you begin to realize, oh wait, I can connect them with a family support worker, I can connect them with the nutritionists, I can connect them with the integrative behavior health specialists, or I can connect them with the addiction services specialists, which is a care coordination team that's a blend in the big round the medical so it's just listening to them. So so help me, help, help help me in the list neers understand that a little bit. Why? Why it Providence? Can't you do that? And why can you do that at the Mary Center? It was it just was it just a philosophical business decision, you know, for lack of a better term, or you know, why could you do one at one place and not at the other? Well, providence, you know, providence at the time is the oldest hospital in the district. For columbius now since closed. Um, for you know, healthcare has wonderful. Yeah, right, and Um. And you know, in a hospital based system the job is not necessarily too unless you have outpatient clinics, the job is not too have. People say, you know, they're looking at length this day. They're looking at metrics, they're looking at all sorts of stuff in our system. Um, we're looking at the broader picture of looking at the family and understanding that we want to, we need their health to become better because we understand that if your health is poor, it impacts everything else. It impacts your capacity to be a functional parent, your capacity city be a great employee, your capacity to be a great member of your community. Now, there's a lawful lot of programmatic elements that are not funded through, you know, typical streams. We do rely on a lot of grants to support these things and so we do have, Um, a very, very strong team of individuals that work through our development department to see grant activities that that may pop up that are relevant. And, you know, grants come out sometimes they have a gazillion dollars associated with it, but you realize it doesn't make sense to go for that because it's not something we can realistically do. So we're very strategic in what we try to do and at the same time we have a really good um element of support from foundations and small donors who believe in the model of care that we're providing, and so I think that a major shout out goes to, you know, the foundational support and other organizations and philanthropy that has been very supportive of activities that we do. So there's a few things you said that I just want to touch on. So the big grant money is really about what you said was we kind of we don't go after that necessarily because we may not be able to effectively deploy that level of resources. So it's more about knowing where your sweet spot is and taking and taking it where you can be the most effective. I guess the analogy comes to my head. You know they say when you're somebody selling something that you know Walmart has placed in order. The good news is Walmart's placed in order. The bad news is Walmart's placed in the order because you know now that now you got the eight ton guerillas standing at your door saying, okay, let's do business and if you don't perform, you know, everything else changes. So so is that? Is that accurate in terms of what you meant by that? With the big grants Um, I would say that we do have some grants staticizable right like so we have a grant from versa as n F CATEC UM. But it shouldn't be about chasing the money. It should be about, you know, resources that support the mission of what we do, if that makes sense, and if we see something that is a deficit in an area of need, we're going to constantly be looking for grant activity that may support that. Now certainly that you know, seasons change, funders decide what they want to focus on. Some focus on general services, some focus on specific projects, and so we have to be very strategic to make sure that, you know, in many situations is to stand something out, to show a sustainability, and then it's our job to make sure it's sustainable after that grant runs out. And we've been very fortunate in showing that these outcomes that we have um through our outcomes and data, their data and outcomes, seeing these outcomes do make a difference. You know, they do make a difference and children's lives and adults lives and and overall health. And I'm well and I'm sure, like anything else, it's if I can trust you with the little things, I...

...can trust you with the big things. Right, and so the grand person is more apt to give you more donation opportunity again in the future if you were a good steward of the first grant. Exactly, and we're very much Um, we're very anal about, you know, outcomes. How do we show that this had a value to the people's lives that we were with Um and, and there's a lot of you know, there was a there was a generous belief, a deep belief in what our founders started, Maria Gomez founders started with DC health. In the two grant there's probably several other Maria Gomez is or or other individuals out there that do the same thing and so Um, we recognize that, Um, that investment in much thirty four years ago, it's paid off tremendously for thousands of lives. And even we still look at these other grant opportunities that we get and we we approach it with the same fervor of trying to make sure that this has as maximum impact on the lives as the original funder and grants or we're envisioning. Yeah, no, I think in the work and that, and this is why, you know, we started the podcast and heroes of healthcare. But I think sometimes in this sort of work you don't even know the impact. I mean there's people who you touch and you don't even realize. I know that my wife and I we we run into this. Sometimes we'll see somebody, somebody younger who through our church or something we haven't seen in a long time and they tell us something that we've said that had an impact on them and I look at we look at each other and we say, I said, who said did you say that? I didn't say that, I don't remember saying it, but this had such an impact on the person that it you know again, it changed a little bit you know, I don't want to say it changed the trajectory of their lives. I don't want to be that bold, but you know it had an impact on them, it had a thing, and sometimes you don't know. So I think in healthcare, and especially what I love about Mary Center's philosophy is you know, when you're looking at the participants in that way, you're changing lives. I mean, you're not. You know, yes, yes, health care workers always change lives, but you guys are doing it in a much deeper and in a much deeper way when you're helping the you know, I guess the way you say that you're helping the Ham at the family heal we talked about it is practice with purpose, right. That's what you said earlier too. Exactly exactly. You know. The other thing that that you mentioned about the example you gave with your wife and the church. It does speak to Um living and moving forward with integrity and I that, I think, is what matters and that integrity is and everything that you do. I mean it's in business, it's in the healthcare it's in living your life, it's and how you treat people and I think it's when you walk in that light and that space. That's when people are noticing you, when you're not realized, you're not even realizing it, you're just that's just who you are. So so let's talk a little bit about what you know. You're working, you said you two thirds has spanned, uh, probably the rest close to all African American. You're you're working in an urban area. Um, you know, there's you know, obviously there's there's poverty, there's, as you said, uh, you know, food, food challenges, all sorts of things. What are you seeing in the socially? What are you seeing in terms of the population coming in? What are some of the things that, uh, maybe encourage you and some of the things that frustrate you know, we had, we just updated a part on our website, um, called our trauma statement, and that trauma statement, I think we posted that shortly after, Um, the George Floyd Um tragedy, and it really was recognizing that there's so much stuff going on that Um, it's important that people understand that they are seen. And so I think the frustrating part is that it's it can feel like it's just nonstop, like you're constantly getting it. And, Um, I've I've yeah, there's a phrase I use frequently and it's called sustained high intensity trauma. And it's like you turn around and whether or not it's you're paying more the gas pump, or you're paying more for interest rates, are you're paying more to rent in apartment? Are you're dealing with micro aggressions from racial animus? Are you're dealing with micro aggressions from xenophobia? Or you know, who you identify as or who you pray to, or it's just it's nonstop, and so I think the frustrating part is that, you know, we haven't. It's still there right and I think it's Nirvana to think that it's ever gonna go away, but you know, it is. It kind of those are the things that I think that at working in our space, you take that home...

...as a staff member. You deal with that and it also impacts the staff, and so I think that that's something that we have to it's it's one thing to say hey, you know, you have to build a resolve to do this a bit and that's almost like saying you just have to deal with it, which is kind of not really fair because it doesn't solve the problem. My mom saying to me, you have to go to school, just suck it up. Yeah, right, and it's like it doesn't solve the wrong. Will make school better in a certain way, right. I mean they've done the same thing with medicine, I mean, and so, Um, to that point, I think that that's the part that's frustrating. The part that is satisfying is the fact that when you do go to work, you're you're making an impact on somebody's lives and somebody's life, and so the when a person does come to Mary Center, it does come to the community health center, there's an opportunity to really make that like a sanctuary for them, a space of safety for them, and so that's the part that is satisfying, is that it's like you're here now, all right, we're here to help. You're not a number of productivity. You're not which is a business metric we all know and we have to, you know, adhere to, but you're not this like business metric when you walk through the door. You're an individual, and so I think that that actually helps us. Um, that actually helps us in terms of staff retention to a certain degree. It helps us in terms of the patient feeling as though or the participating feeling as though they genuinely care, and so I think that that also brings in an element of of, you know, loyalty to a certain degree. I mean they feel as though when they come here, we are here to try and support them and if we can't figure it out, we're gonna find somebody they can. Right. Well, it goes back to purpose again, right, we can't, you know, not to keep hammering that theme, but it goes back to the purpose. And purpose can trump a lot of things and the culture can trump a lot of things. You know, the expression uh, culture, culture, eat. Strategy for breakfast is UH. You know, we we see it now and it's true and we see, you know, companies are now measuring employee engagement as one of the key productivity metrics. And are my more my employees engaged or are they just coming in, punching the clock and going out and they don't care? Uh. So it is, uh, it is. And you know, it's interesting that you brought up the piece about the UM. You know that it's nonstop and you put the I think the word you would sustained high intensity trauma Um, and you talked about George Floyd, because in some of the episodes we had during that you know, during or right after that time, in the middle of the pandemic. Uh. You know, I remember one of the leaders of Mount Sinai and a couple of other urban hospital centers saying the same thing to us. was that the tipping scale for their staff in what we would call today burnout or the first minds of this burnout, was George Floyd. That a lot of this, the George Floyd situation, that they were dealing with, this bombardment of issues, Um and stress around the covid and treating it and what was it? And we don't know, and this death and all the other stuff going on and then all of a sudden the George Floyd thing and people he said we're coming into his office and said that I can't, I can't handle this load, this emotional load, right now. You know, here's the part that Um is tragic. This has been going on all along. It just happened. had been caught on camera. This this you know what's been happening to people. And you're speaking. You're speaking of the George Floyd situation. Yeah, the George Foy I mean specifically, I mean, it just happened to have been caught on camera. I mean, and I think that they're absolutely you know, I think the large preponderance of enforcement are like wonderful human beings just like anybody else, you know, they want to raise a family all this other stuff, and so but unfortunately, in that situation you had, you know, some bad people doing bad things that were caught on camera and and in a moment in time where, Um, you know, people actually were existing in a space, a pandemic, where they actually had the time to sit down and look at it right, and so, um, but it's it's just unfortunate. Exactly exactly. But it's unfortunate because, you know, there is a there's a website called without sanctuary dot org and it is a pictorial essay on lynching in America and, Um, it really does give people an understanding of how, Um, just it gives them an impression of how profound lynching was in the United States, and it's just a small picture of how profound it was. Um. But yes,...

George Floyd was absolutely one of those things. That moment in time was definitely a place that we were marching towards in terms of an awakening. We internally had already started, Um, with our organization, where we recognize that Um, the communities that we serve that go beyond just Hispanic or African American, the Lgbtq community or other communities that we um actually it formed what it's called the idea committee, which is a multidiscipline and multi staff kind of committee where Um it stands for inclusion, diversity, equity and awareness. And so, as an organization, we were already appealing to this and giving people a space to have a voice so they could feel a certain kind of way and they can contribute to it's one thing to have the mission of what we're doing, but it's also to get to how are people feeling in the moment and how do we make an imply impact on, like I said, inclusion, diversity, equity and awareness, and not how to be afraid of bringing those topics up, but how to speak about those not only not only just intelligently, but also in a comfortable space. Yeah, safe, I say safe, a safe space. Yeah, Um. Yeah. I mean, you know, we have big initiatives going on at Jackson and coker as well, and you know, I definitely think we're making strides and stuff. But you know, and and I'm curious how you respond to this because I guess again, you know, Um as, as I said, I'm a white male. I don't, I don't pretend or expect to understand what somebody of color or of other ethnic or whatever, you know, thing they are are feeling discriminated against or uncomfortable or can't feel like they can bring their own self to the thing has got, has has had to deal with. But sometimes, I say, I see progress, but just not fast enough. Do you ever sense that? Do you ever feel like we're making progress but it just is not moving at the speed in which it needs too? Of course, of course, absolutely. You know I think that, um but I mean and I and maybe maybe that question. I'm sorry to interrupt. Maybe that question was obvious, but I'm and I'm not trying to be obvious, because what I'm almost even wondering too is yes, maybe we're making progress, but do you feel like in some ways, you know, we may feel like we're making progress here, but then we take two steps back there, so we're really not making progress. So I really don't answer ask that question. To be obvious. You know that yes, we're making progress. But I'm really curious. Do you? Do you feel that the communities feel that? Yes, but it just clearly obviously isn't fast enough. Um, I would say yes, Um. One thing I would say is that, um, people in a space of privilege feel as though equity and equality means that we're taking something away from them and as a result, they can feel threatened. And nobody's asking to take away your freedom, nobody's asking to take away their their rights, nobody's asking to take away their ability to thrive. We're just asking for equity and equality too put us all in that space where we can embrace each other and and recognize each other's value and worth. And you know, organizations are better when they have a diverse workforce. And you know, and and so you know, it can get to the point where, you know, you interview as sis gendered White Male and all of a sudden someone say, Hey, there's sis gendered white males like yeah, but they're good, right. Or you can interview a Trans Man and and somebody could say, well, are you interviewing them because of that? No, I'm doing that because they're good, right. And so you know, there's all sorts of things there and I think when you exist in a space of privilege, there's this fear that your life is going to be horrible and horrific and therefore there's this result of pushed back like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, whoa. This is just a little too much. Now we're just gonna, you know, just take a little bit at a time, and that's not really it's not cool. Really, or I want to see before I commit. Right, let's let's go slow exactly. If it's okay, then I'll keep going, but if it's but I want to I don't want to get too far into it, because then then I can't turn back. Right. So let's let's go, let's go slow. Yeah, I think that there's a yeah, or the notion that a woman couldn't be a highly affected president, if not the best president we've ever had. Right, and there's still people out there. They just can't wrap their head around that, for sure. For sure. Yeah, no, yeah, and UH UH. We just have to we have to keep pushing. We just have to keep pushing on that issue. So as we're kind of we're coming up around some time. Um, what other you know? So we we you talked about some of the positives. We talked about some of the negative things. I know you right before we got on the to record. Uh the UM. The recent UH immigration thing with over fifty dead down in Texas people trying to...

...get get into the country, obviously has had a has had a big impact on you, and I'm sure for lots of reasons, but also that community that you served that is so heavily Hispanic and things like that. What, Um, if you don't mind sharing, what touches you about that? What? What? What? What? What? The what touches your heart? Um? You know, kids, obviously, being a parent and looking at my own children, who range an age from fifteen to twenty two, Um, and recognizing that even those that came as individuals without children, they came seeking a better life and they came on a journey to what they see as a beautiful space with opportunity, which is this country. And you know, we recognize as a nation that we can do better, but they also recognize and see the value in our country as as who we are right now and the opportunities that exist, not to extract and pull resources from us, but to actually be a part of us. And so the part that so tragic is the loss of life. Um. What's tragic is the loss of hopes and dreams and the loss of children. And also what's tragic is that, you know, we lost people that could have been a great contribution to who we are as a country. And so that that's a very um, it's a very difficult thing to see except and find acceptable and and and it's a it's an absolutely horrific thing for anybody to politicize it. Um, the loss of these lives, of course, yeah, and the loss of of course they're doing and exactly which? Of course, they're pointing fingers and things can distract other deficits, right, and so, you know, you're just trying to change the narrative. And the part that so tragic is just the loss of life. I mean that absolutely. It's something that, if you believe in the human condition, that should be the first thing that hits any anyone that that season hears about that. Yeah, no, for sure, and on and on and on, you know, and on so and so many levels. You know, the frustration with the immigration policies and things. Um, not to get too far off topic, but it's it's it. It is frustrating because each of these generations who were similar to the generations who are trying to escape persecution in there are other countries today. You know how quickly we forget because that's what the Irish were doing. That's what this country was founded on. Let's forget the Irish that. So the English were doing right, they were being persecuted, they weren't able to practice what they wanted, so they came and found a new land. But it just seems like, you know, when the Irish were persecuted and the you know all the different the Polish were persecuted, all the different Um ethnic groups who came into this country all ran into this same thing and it's it's just a little it's a little befuddling. Why did we not? The country was built on that. Why do we have of trouble accepting that? For the next one, and I think it goes back a lot of it to what you said, which is fear from the people who are here who have something, that something is going to be taken away. Yeah, it's privilege and and you know, the indigenous people of this country lived on this land for Eons, right, and you know, look where they are now. And it's just tragic and you know, and we need to be honest and open and transparent and embrace and recognize that there's something Um that there's injustices done there. You know. You know, I am a descendant of African slaves and also, you know, they went midwest and blended in with native Americans, and so there's you know, there's line as there and and it is this, you know, human experience that has gone through so many different tragedies that has continued to thrive and survive and I don't understand why it is that anybody would not embrace those same individuals coming from far away or across the border, not as leeches into the system but as people that can contribute and generations later, if not years later, or if in the moment contribute, they's we could talk a long time about this, but it's just it's Um. Yeah, because you know, as you said, you know that. You know, we all we hear the politicians talking about the bad people in those groups. Why don't we hear about all the stories about how all those the vast majority of those immigrants are become productive people of society, pay tax, do all those other things they do and make this country better are, but we want to focus on...

...the two or three thieves, the two or three thieves that we've let in. So yeah, so let's get back to healthcare. So as we wrap things up here and well, and we'll close on on a bit of a positive note, I always feel in this segment of the show. But, um, we always like to kind of close out. Hey, thank you again for your time and your your candor and your openness to to be a part of this. But, Um, so when you think back to to your life, and obviously you said your six foot and ten ten point font and the list is very long of people who have had the influence on your life. And uh, but who, who's your hero, when you think back of it, who is really the person who you look upon and say that that was my hero? Yeah, you're trying to make me choke up and get all tied right now. I would I would have to say that, Um, you know my mother. Um, she is a fifty three year breast cancer survivor. She a breast cancer in in sixty time when I was eleven months old, and she had it again, Um, shortly thereafter. I think it was during my brother's pregnancy, and she raised five children, for the most part as a single parent. At certain times she had two and a half jobs. She's five ft one, five FT two and tough. She's still here. She's eighty one. She'll be eighty two this year. You know, she um, she's not a I remember asking her about, Um, what was going through her head when she had a diagnosis, and she was like yeah, I'm no, not now. And so she's just like I'm not eating this earth now. Yeah, it's like I have these too many kids and, you know, in a weird kind of twist of faith. Um, we touched upon this earlier in the podcast that I had mentioned that Dr Mohammed had called Dr La fall about. You know, Dr Lafall was the breast surgeon for my mother when she was pregnant with my brother. No Way. Yeah, and so you know he also has a lot to do with you know, through this weird six degrees of separation. Yeah, still, he made sure that the second time she had breast cancer did not become a terminal existence for her. And so Um, but my mother, Um, she might not I try to say it, but I think she knows, based on deeds and action and and what I try to do with my my life that, but she absolutely is at the top. That's great. Well, thank you for sharing that. And and we always like to pull a few few tears out of or get get a little lump and throat it with our guests here. So that's good. If we if we did that, that's good. That's what we try to do here. So that's good. Uh, you know, the the whole the whole term of you know somebody who's your hero or is a hero is uh, it's not always the person who seeks the fame and fortune, but it's the person who just does what needs to be done when it has to be done right. So so we appreciate you know, can I add something that real quick please? I think also that she gets that from her mom. Her mom was a single parently raised there. My Grandmother was a housekeeper in Houston and wanted to become a nurse and had an accident, I think it. Saved up some money, had an accident or actually develop a pendicitis and had to use her money to pay for that and she worked as a housekeeper to put Um to raise my mother and my aunt and you know, my mom, like I said, became a physical therapist and I became a pharmacist and so Um, you know, it's just something that's that's there and I think that's where children see. You know, it's such an incredible special space to really leave an impact, even when you don't think you are, just the integrity of who you are as a person. People see that. Yeah, I love that because you know, with us to you know, with our kids and some of the as I said earlier, the well the work, that mentoring work that I do and my wife and I do together. You know, couples often say, you know how how to raise my kids, what do I have to do? And you know there's no playbook and they're all different and all that sort of stuff. But the one thing we say is model. You know, it's model how you want behavior and you talked about modeling the integrity earlier and that's what we said. You know, you can't act one way and expect them to behave another. So you it's through modeling and obviously your mom saw it with your grandmother, and you and your siblings have seen it through your mom's strength and it becomes it becomes a generational thing and it's the same way as the brokenness becomes a generational thing. You know, so does the integrity thing. So we just have to keep finding ways to bring more of that, change lives, impact people who may be going on the wrong path. So, Um, yeah, lots of lots of heavy issues and social issues we talked about today, but I loved it...

...and I appreciate your your heart and your spirit. We thank you for all the service you provide at Mary Center and, uh, we just asked you continue to do the great work that you're doing and we thank you well. Thank you for having me. I was definitely enjoyable. I mean we could probably talk for another six hours of three or four more episodes. Then we'll have to have an we'll have another episode. That sounds good. I look forward to that. Good. Thanks, agin. I have a great I have a great day. 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 PODCAST DOT COM.

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