Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I grew up in a family where the expectation was clearly set that you would advance in knowledge beyond what the teacher was teaching at school, the preacher taught on Sunday’s, or any coach could provide.  It was your responsibility to grow in wisdom.   I have carried that thru into my adult life by maintaining a daily “quiet time” to read, study, and grow - setting aside 45 min to an hour each morning. (which happens to be the quietest time available in a house with 4 young boys.)  

A few weeks ago I started a study called “Balancing Life’s Demands” which discusses mental, physical, emotional, relational and spiritual balance.   The study uses the word “Margin” and defines it as the difference between what needs to be done and the time you have to do it.  I will have yet another birthday soon….not real thrilled about it… the identification of what one would call balance or margin is becoming a more focused effort.    

The ironic part of this life assessment is over the past 14 years, I have consulted with dozens of hospitals on defining margin for their organization. I analyze the obscure data generated by specific variable workflow activities and give recommendation on utilizing technology to enhance it.  The software we developed automates much of that process and enables continuous improvement.   Aperum uses data visualization to identify the often misunderstood work load driven form theinconsistent demands on their care teams generated by patients.  

I keep telling myself this life assessment should be a no brainer - life margin should not be elusive or nebulous.  I have built an entire business on designing “at a glance visuals” – where the metric quickly and effectively means something to an organization. However, it’s easy to say “I prioritize my family and church first” but if you look at the quantifiable data of hours spent per week – it’s not really a balanced metric.  (Same is true in nursing if you analyze where they spend the most time – you will find it’s not at the bedside so the perception is the main priority is not “direct” patient care….but that’s another blog.)

Strangely enough, I was a week or so in to this new study when Ed Marx posted his blog Bank Life, Not Vacation Days.  I loved that he had thought of a metric for evaluating whether or not he was in check for his commitment to balance – PTO hours accumulated vs PTO hours used.   A simple and easy to define number that encompasses a lot of information.  That’s the key – everyone knows that you have fewer PTO hours than you do total work hours – so it’s not a 1 for 1 equivalent.   It’s a predefined measurement of additional time away from work. Our payroll company generates that automatically and posts it to our online account – I honestly have never looked at it.  Not because I am pretentious and think the walls would fall down without me (I travel enough to know that my team has the operations side handled).  Mainly, I love work and I don’t really think about it unless prompted by my husband that a vacation would be nice.  I took a look after reading his blog…..let’s just say I booked a vacation next month. 

Thanks Ed.

If you are in Health IT and are not familiar with Ed’s blog  –CIO Unplugged –  he is a consistent blogger that has a way of communicating things that present more than just HIT initiatives – he gets “real”.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Community Garden

Recently, we had planting day for the community garden in South Kansas City.  Six months ago when I was asked to serve on the board of a local ministry, a community garden was not in the job description……a point I keep making to the group and I am sure they are tired of hearing.    Luckily, the garden has a fearless and passionate leader in Cama Suess (and her ever supportive and able husband Chuck) who pushed ahead and pulled me a long.  I am so glad she has done that…..

There are two aspects of a community garden.  The most apparent, it's a garden, a place to grow food to supply the need of those in need with healthy fresh produce.   It's an environment where we can do more than offer processed non-perishable food items.
A few years ago at the Cerner Conference there was a lot of buzz about “health and care” and the distinction between the two words.  We talk about solving the problems of healthcare thru better documentation, better technology, better process but a lot of solving the problems of our health system is by improving the health of the general public.   Often healthy living is reserved for those with means – it’s less expensive and easier to fill up a family on pizza rolls then it is to buy and prepare fresh food.   Food pantries are filled with the “helpers” (hamburger, tuna, chicken), canned meats & vegetables, and other processed non-perishable food items.   Not that they aren’t important but I keep thinking we can do better.

This garden will feed about 40+ families with fresh produce this summer.  It has corn, green beans, tomatoes, okra, squash, peppers, zucchini, and melons.  We plan to hand out recipes and cooking instructions with the produce.  
The second aspect is community.  This garden is about creating a sustainable renewable effort to provide an environment to serve others.  It’s a place to connect.  It’s a place where people can learn how to grow their own food while tending a garden.

On planting day, I gardened next to seasoned veterans who shared insights that you just don’t get on Pintrest. I shared a shovel with people who grew up in rural areas and have grown their own vedge for years.  I learned and so will others who work there this summer and in the future.

A garden has no boundaries, while we are a Christian ministry, this garden is a spot where people from any church, or any faith can come and serve the need of our community.  It’s about supporting a community of people – as my brother says “Being the change we want to see in the world starts with me”.
 I have launched a start-up with a zero dollar budget and had to be creative with this blog, twitter, and networking to get the word out, but I did it because it was the right thing to do patients.  It’s hard work.  As I thought about this garden – the expense, the work, the liability……the hard work…..I keep coming back to the same thought this is the right thing to do for our community.    That being said – we are getting creative to fund it and need your help. 

Please visit our Crowdfunding website and consider donating to the cause

If you are in Kansas City - Be a part of the effort - come out and grab a shovel – visit the as I AM ministries – Outreach facebook page to learn more or visit our website

Thank you!

If not you….then who…..if not now…..then when.