Cynthia Persily, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Persily is the CEO of Highland Hospital in Charleston, WV
Today, Lisa Layden, our COO/CFO, Jim Dissen, the Chairperson of our Highland Hospital Board of Trustees, and I participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. We were challenged by Dr. Kiran Devaraj, our Chief Clinical Officer and Medical Director, after he participated last week. On the lawn of the hospital, we allowed our staff to pour 5 gallon buckets of ice water on our heads. A few observations. First, it was very cold. Second, our staff came out in droves to watch us-including our new staff who were attending our New Employee Orientation today. And finally, everyone watching was smiling, laughing, and engaged. Now, you might say that was because they wanted to see us doused with icy cold water, but I think something else was going on.
All around the country and the world, the same thing has happened– whether it was with kids in their backyard, TV and movie stars, or public officials–people have come together gleefully around a cause. And the cause in this case, ALS, was one that most people didn’t even know about before this social media phenomenon. So the question becomes, how can we capture this energy and apply what we’ve learned to bring people at the grassroots level around a cause. Today at our meeting of the Kanawha Coalition for Community Health Improvement, we started that exact conversation. How could we bring this energy to a community health issue–the methamphetamine crisis for instance? Change is driven by grassroots efforts–which is obvious in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Let’s think about how we can use our experiences with this challenge to make our communities stronger and healthier!