Together, we can move mountains.
The saying might be a cliche, but I’ve always believed in it. In times of trouble, it isn’t a spark of individual genius or a playbook of cutthroat business tactics that allows us to weather times of crisis – it’s our unity. The trust and cohesion we share as a team make victories more thrilling and setbacks less sharp; unity empowers us to achieve, while division inevitably forces us into failure.
The thought of unity and its value remained with me when I sat down to write the presidential speech for the Missouri Health Care Association’s conference dinner this fall.
The MHCA is the largest association of residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities in the state of Missouri. Its ranks encompass nearly 320 facility members, more than 65% of the licensed, long-term SNFs in the state, and over 160 healthcare-adjacent businesses and associates. The Association as a whole dedicates itself to bettering the quality of healthcare in Missouri and ensuring that their collective residents maintain dignified and comfortable lives.
It’s a truly wonderful organization – and for two years, I had the honor of serving as its president. September marked the close of my two-year term, and when the MHCA hosted its annual dinner, I had the opportunity to look back on the accomplishments and growth I oversaw from my place at the helm.
There were rough patches – I won’t deny it. Two years ago, we were working in isolation; we were inefficient and ineffective. But when I look back on those problematic beginnings and the more unified months that followed, I think more about the inspiring sense of teamwork that permeated every one of our efforts with purpose and effect. I cannot say enough for the tireless work that family members, employees, and vendors put in to further MHCA’s pursuit of support, compassion, and care for our residents. Our grassroots efforts burgeoned; every week, a cohort of our members would travel to the capitol to lobby on the organization’s behalf. Because of their hard work and a shared sense of drive, we managed to sway legislation in our residents’ best interests – we moved the metaphorical mountain.
Of course, this change didn’t come without work behind the scenes. Our organizational structure underwent significant renovations during the past two years; we slimmed our executive team by cutting our dual executive director role into a one-person job. Now, MHCA’s ranks have a clarity of purpose and direction. With one person making the brunt of the decisions, the brunt of the organization’s equivocation and red tape has disappeared, empowering the team to work quickly and without confusion. We also took on a dedicated grassroots coordinator to better arrange and maximize the impact of our lobbying. I can’t say enough about their work, or about the efforts our public relations team has undertaken on MHCA’s behalf. Given strong leadership and a clarity of purpose, I am confident that the organization can achieve any task it sets its collective mind to.
Thanks, too, should go to the board of directors, our families, and perhaps most wholeheartedly, our staff members. Speaking for myself as the CEO of Reliant Care Group, I can say without a shred of a doubt that without our employees’ willingness to put in long hours and step into roles that demand not only hard work but also compassionate thought and empathetic care, we would be lost.
My final thanks go to our residents, for reminding us of why we do what we do.
I oversee 65 businesses, so I don’t often have a chance to form strong relationships with residents, but there are moments that stay with me. One memory remains particularly strong; I had visited one of Reliant’s facilities during dinner, and I came across an individual that I had met before.
“Are you here for dinner?” I asked him, expecting to know the answer.
“No,” he told me, “I graduated from my program, and I work here now.”
Before I could say anything in congratulations, he dug into his pocket and pulled out the slightly worn paper of a check stub. He showed it to me.
“I’m 38 years old,” he told me, “This is the first paycheck I’ve ever received.”
The bright smile on his face told me that the thin piece of paper he held in his hand meant the world to him. It was proof that he’d been through adversity despite the odds – that he had earned something with his own two hands, even though he had thought that he might never make that milestone.
Seeing that in his smile reminded me of why I stand with MHCA, and why the work we do is so important. We are changing lives for the better – and for the sake of that resident and others like him, I hope we never lose sight of our unified purpose.