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Dear Colleagues, Over the course of my career, I have m

Dear Colleagues,

Over the course of my career, I have moved three different times between my home state of Arkansas and North Carolina. Each move came under different circumstances and in different seasons of my personal and professional life. But, every move, no matter if it’s across the country or just across town, is an opportunity to consider what you really need to bring with you to the new place you are going.

We all have the things we feel we could not live without. The packing process also reveals other valuables that are less prominent, but just as important. Things you find stuffed in the back of a drawer that remind you of where you were and who you were with when you bought them. Stories you want to make sure come along with you.

Deep down, however, what is most important are the people. Things will be lost, dropped, and dented along the way, but as long as your family makes it with you to wherever you are going, you will be home.

Every day I carry a key to my grandparents’ home in my pocket. I do that to remind me of where I am from, and of them, and of what’s important to me. Not the things in their house, the people and the times we shared together.

At this moment, we are facing another period of significant transition. Moving into a new year and a new future for our health system – hopefully seeing the impacts of COVID receding and setting ourselves up for success years into the future. After what we have all experienced through the pandemic, frankly, it feels energizing to have the opportunity to take a more active role in shaping what comes next.

As we plot the course of the future, our health system and each of us face the same choice: What comes with us?

As I reflect on all we’ve seen and done together over this period, there is a passage from the classic Russian novel, The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky that stands out in my mind.

“And even if we are occupied by most important things, if we attain to honor, or fall into great misfortune – still let us remember how good it was once here, when we were all together, united by a good and kind feeling which made us…better perhaps than we are.”

The most important thing that we will bring into this new period are the teammates that we have worked alongside through the last two years. Just as important for us to bring is that “good and kind feeling” – the grace – that we have shown to each other through this time.

The challenge we face as an organization and as leaders is how to take the parts of our culture that began as adaptations and maintain them as we move forward. The pandemic has challenged us in ways we could have never imagined, but faced with these difficulties, we worked harder than ever before. Of course, maintaining that pace over nearly two years has been draining and as much as we try to sustain and support each other, we know there is exhaustion across our workforce. We also know that whatever the next several months bring, there will be no going back to how it was “before.” The changes accelerated or brought upon by the pandemic are here to stay.

I hope that over the next several weeks you are able to spend some time with your family and loved ones, to relax and refresh. I hope you will also take some moments to reflect and to be proud of what we have accomplished together and to consider what you and your teams will bring with you into the New Year and new future.

As a health system, we are making several commitments to invest in our people. We aspire to be a world-class workplace and will soon begin ramping up new efforts including enriched benefits as well as defining and building upon the unique attributes of our statewide system to attract, engage, and retain the teammates that we need to fulfill our mission to the people of North Carolina. We also know that our teammates are in many different places emotionally and in need of varying degrees of support. Their well-being will be an ongoing priority. We will also be working to remind everyone of the value of our One Great Team; our mission, shared culture, and all that we can continue to accomplish together.

My hope is that you reflect on this among your teams as well. I know there are some things from the last two years that you will be happy to place out on the curb. There will be other things from early in the pandemic, stories you have stuffed away and perhaps have forgotten about. Let’s focus on those.

Ask folks to share a story or accomplishment that they are most proud of, while sharing thanks and gratitude for those who worked alongside and supported them through the work. Reconnect to the spirit that has united us. These are the stories we can build upon to accomplish our goals moving forward.

I truly believe that this time did not make us better than we are; rather it revealed what we truly can be.

Thank you so much for all of your outstanding work. I hope you and your families enjoy a relaxing, safe, and healthy Holiday Season.