— Jackie Muri
I met Dr. Al-Hafez about a year ago. There are a lot of common threads in our organizations’ respective missions. I have tremendous respect for Dr. Al-Hafez. He’s extremely bright and he maintains a holistic view, with his patients at the heart of that view.
Who is doing suicide prevention? Who is collaborating on this issue? Based on patient interactions, how do we identify recurring problems? Recurring themes related to patient care delivery in eastern Montana are present without clear solutions and consensus among key stakeholders. For example, we have a high suicide rate, drug abuse, and limited access to health care in our county and region. Working in our facility as a hospitalist, Dr. Al-Hafez confirmed our findings, and he identified additional patient-care needs. Together, Holy Rosary Healthcare Foundation and
Global Health Equity Foundation focused on finding solutions that will impact these trends long-term. For a physician to take the kind of leadership role Dr. Al-Hafez has taken is unusual. He brought the idea of a consensus-building forum to us. The forum brings together community, healthcare, and business leaders to collaborate on setting priorities and identifying solutions. Dr. Al-Hafez’s leadership and perspective as a physician are highly valued. He has taken this project to a different level.
The forum brought together a diverse group: city leaders, nurses, hospital CEOs, physicians, business owners, and other community leaders from across eastern Montana. The sheer excitement of these participants was impressive. People met and discussed what the real issues were and how to potentially solve them. They set priorities, and decided where best to begin. It worked because we involved all the key stakeholders. We moved the envelope as to when things could get done.
Holy Rosary Healthcare (HRH) provided resources for the forum and for the action plans, including the information needed for a fact-based conversation. Eastern Montana is our organization’s home. We brought local relationships and contacts to the partnership with Global Health Equity Foundation. The forums in Eastern Montana worked so well that we are confident about expanding the project and are exploring our options in Northwestern Montana. We’re just in the beginning stages, but so far the response in Northwestern Montana has been encouraging.
This is a very manageable and well-run project. It is reasonable in scope, covering a reasonable area, with the expectation of reasonable outcomes. Knowledge from patient-care delivery is used to develop community action plans. The speed at which Global Health Equity Foundation works is also impressive. Some of the concrete results so far include:
• a suicide prevention meeting each month
• the development of a healthcare directory, with online access
• a change in attitudes and in trends thanks to community engagement
GHEF personnel excel at community outreach. This is an ongoing project, to increase communication and to expand communication over a larger region. Local media have become involved. Future plans include a 2 1/2 day continuing education conference, with the focus for the conference coming from Dr. Al-Hafez’s work with patients. Topics may include:
• prescription drug abuse
• mental health issues
• over-medication issues
• gaps in healthcare
• appropriate diagnosis tools and methods for mental health issues
• elevate the level of care for all patients
• measure the impact of action plans, and note outcomes for patients
• connect the dots for multiples causes and effects
• connect potential collaborators