Like the Mighty Mississippi

As I write this message, I am at 30,000-plus feet above the earth. On my way with my family to North Carolina, I look down now and I see we are above the Mississippi River. As we cross over the Mighty Mississippi, I can’t help but think back to the last time my Grandmother crossed this timeless flowing waterway. I was with her.

I was driving her from her home in Alabama to her daughter’s home in Texas, on what would be her last journey in life. She had taken a fall a few weeks before, and at the age of 96 (or 97 – her county courthouse burned down when she was a girl living in Biloxi, but she said a lady should always choose the younger age) she had other complicating conditions and, though she did get somewhat better, she never fully recovered.

It was a blessing that she had a family that was able to take her in and take care of her in those last 6 weeks of life. But as our parents and grandparents age, not everyone has that option. Even so, there were home health professionals and doctors that helped ease her pain and allowed her to be as comfortable as possible.

As I think about my work, the mission of Afoundria, and the rapidly changing post-acute care segment of healthcare, I can’t help but think of where I’ll be if I am lucky enough to live that long. Will our system be better prepared to support an aging population? Will we, as individuals, be able to take better care of ourselves with all that we’ve learned of health and wellness?

When I walk through skilled nursing facilities and see the faces of the sick and the old, the healing and the dying, I wonder if they ever thought they’d end up there. Can we improve their conditions? Can we improve the conditions for their families and caregivers? Of course I hope so and spend a great deal of effort with hundreds of thousands of other health and healthcare professionals trying to help make that happen.

This isn’t just our present; it is our collective future we are building towards – and also the future for our children. Without much imagination, I can see my future-self in those faces I encounter. I am optimistic that we’ll solve the problems we face – like poor transitions of care, paper-based and error-prone; and ultimately costly, inefficient with suboptimal outcomes.

So I’m glad to be working in an industry that is changing for the better thanks to so many people who care to do the hard work.

Like the Mighty Mississippi, we’ll keep moving and flowing, changing the landscape if we must. But we will eventually reach our goals.