When I’ve sat down to write about ImproveCareNow over the past decade, I’ve had the luxury of time. Time to reflect on our recent data and progress, time to tell the neat stories about patients and parents working together, and time to try and try again to put my finger on just what it is that makes this community so special…what gives it it’s spark. And while I think many in the ImproveCareNow community appreciate what makes it special—and also what can make that hard to describe—I realize those outside looking in can still find it hard to grasp. So, I often find myself thinking about several lines of William Stafford’s poem The Way it Is:

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.

When I made the challenging decision last month to leave ImproveCareNow and move into a role within my local community, I thought about the time I had left to reflect on these things and maybe write a meaningful piece about what it’s meant to me—once more so that others could really understand it. But time has gotten away from me and I am about to set off on my next adventure as a program officer with a local foundation that is seeking to improve health in my own community. And in the hustle and bustle of transitioning out of a role I’ve had for years I’m out of time to write that one big thing.

But now I realize that’s OK. Even though I’m leaving this day-to-day role, I’m not really leaving the community behind, both because I believe in what we are doing and because I believe that the spirit of ImproveCareNow follows people wherever they go. Not only will I take the ideas and tools that I’ve seen work so well with me, but I will take continued relationships with the many, many clinicians, parents, patients and others I’ve come to know and care about. I get to take so many delightful memories too—of teams giving their very first presentation at a Community Conference...of patients leading webinars for the first time…and of lots of ImproveCareNow traditions that really have become what knits us all together even when the hard, sometimes slow work of improving care gets us down.  

And I’ll have time to write and reflect more with the advantage of some distance. That doesn’t have to end now. Once you’ve been part of this community, it’s always yours to write about and talk about—whether you are a staff member, a care center-based improvement team member, a patient, or even someone who has joined us at one conference, or on just one webinar and wants to share just one glimpse of what you’ve seen.

After this week I won’t be the one to “gently” push team to submit reports and enter data, to support individuals in their own leadership journeys, and to devise sometimes comfort-challenging ways for patients and clinicians to truly work as partners in this system. But you can be sure I’ll be watching from the sidelines, cheering you on, and celebrating along with you as you keep following the thread, weaving something beautiful together…and making it easier still for others to see.


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