Community Connections for Health Care

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by Joan Bachman

We live in a world affected by “Officials” of some sort or other. There are the ones we vote for (or against) (or let someone else elect); the bureaucrats in local, state, and federal government; law enforcement; church leaders; heads of organizations; and more. These are the people that make and enforce the rules. Have you ever been an “official”? I have been, and picked up a better understanding of how our world works. Now that I’m no longer in such a position, I try to impact the officials who impact my life. My involvement is limited to voting and writing letters.

The officials seem to dictate how we do what we do. Some of that dictation is for our personal good, some for the good of a select group, some for society as a whole. Once in a while the dictation seems unrelated to any good purpose. I won’t call officials “leaders”, for many of them do not fit that definition.

It is good to understand how government works. Elected officials pass the laws [policy] that require rules [procedures] to be written. Bureaucrats write the legal rules under which we operate, hopefully with input from the public, and enforce them. Therefore, bureaucrats interpret the law and, as time goes on, may interpret rules differently under different elected officials. These facts (and they are) make it important for affected individuals (you and me) to voice concerns with how rules are applied. So, if a rule seems to miss the point, you have a duty to say something, or, by default, agree with what is happening.

Politicians seeking election have had a tendency for many years, perhaps forever, to promise good things for a select segment of society; promises which are often impossible to fulfill. Because we humans are selfish, too often we elect the person with the best promises. If we determine that those promises are not being fulfilled or the modeling does not meet our personal beliefs, we should exercise our personal right to impact how our government operates. Freedom of speech in this country gives us the right to express our concerns and to suggest alternatives.

Elected officials are in place to represent and serve us within their realm of influence. Whether you voted for them or not, you have a right to let an official know how their actions do or do not meet your expectations. In fact, if you expect a democracy to operate correctly, you will inform officials of your expectations for outcome on a fairly regular basis. In this day of the internet, that communication can be accomplished almost instantaneously. CAUTION: Do not make rash statements. Spend some time thinking about the subject of your thoughts, what are your wishes, and how you can best make yourself understood. Your rational statements will carry more weight than an immediate outburst. I am reminded by a news article that officials have access to information that we do not, and that will affect their actions. When that is the reason they are moving a certain direction, their response to you should indicate as much.

One of the sad things I learned in my bureaucratic position was that elected officials may fail to proceed with fixing a current problem because, if they will not hold their current position for the long future, a successor will get credit for the progress. This practice disappointed me and helped me realize why it took 25 years to revise and improve federal rules and reimbursement for health care in rural communities.

Another specific lesson I learned was the difference between permission and prohibition. In a State that operates with the attitude of “permission”, there is likelihood for success of proposed new ideas not otherwise defined. In a State that operates with the attitude of “prohibition”, there is no likelihood for success of a proposed idea that hasn’t already been defined. Bureaucrats may exercise freedom of interpretation, maybe even within a single department.

A branch of “officials” that carry influence that is harder for the individual to impact is that of corporate officials. Employees of a corporation have a lower probability of being heard than are the corporate upper echelon, owners, and investors. The larger the corporation, the smaller the voice of the individual employee. This attribute seems to be as true for non-profit corporations as it is for for-profit corporations. However, as a customer or an investor, you do have a voice. You are free to purchase from "sellers" with beliefs and practices in line with yours. Although there may be little difference to the seller, you have the satisfaction of making a statement. (I do this.) As an investor, you also have a choice to trust your assets to someone who operates in accord with your preferences.

This essay is intended to encourage you to pay attention to the world around you, listening for facts rather than opinion to learn the truth of the matter. With social media information, it is important to actively seek out truth rather than listen to hype or innuendo. Just as a business needs customers for support, officials need involved voters. Write to your OFFICIALS today to thank them for services or to suggest changes to meet your expectations.

About the Author

Joan Bachman

Joan Bachman is a Registered Nurse, Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, Registered Health Information Technician, and Faith Community Nurse. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Joan has experience as a Nurse, Administrator, Developer, Trainer, Grant Writer, and served as Administrator of SD State Survey Agency. She has consulted with health care facilities and nonprofit organizations and presented leadership training. Joan is the author of Guidebook for Assisted Living Facilities and Senior Service Providers and Guidebook for Physician Services in the Nursing Facility, and she has published in professional journals.



You are so right about needing to contact officials with challenging but accurate information - wrapped up in opinions :) Right on!

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