The Setting Was Spiritual, the Event Was Emotional

Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon

It was the first time an Alaska Native/American Indian owned organization had received the Baldrige Award. It was well-deserved and the celebration was joyous. It took place at the beautiful Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. I was privileged to be present. One speaker after another praised the accomplishments of Southcentral Foundation, from their Nuka system of care focused on strength and physical and spiritual wellness to their customer-owner management system.

So, who came to recognize Southcentral Foundation and their receipt of the Baldrige Award? (And as an aside, recognizing not only Southcentral, but what it means to achieve the status of Baldrige Award winner!) The first speaker was Charles Anderson, Chairman of the Board of the Cook Inlet Region, Inc. He was followed by Alaska’s only Congressman, Don Young. There were speakers from two Foundations that support activities in Alaska, the Hitachi and Rasmuson Foundations. They were followed by Charlie Galbraith, a Native American who serves as the Director of the Office of Engagement at the White House. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and several speakers from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement delivered testimony to the unique brand of healthcare delivered by Southcentral and why it deserved Presidential recognition. Of course the evening documented that best practices can be shared and are with a message from CareOregon. Finally Katherine Gottlieb, Southcentral Foundation CEO, spoke and in true Baldrige style acknowledged the real “winners” of the Baldrige Award, the staff and customer-owners of the organization.

As nice as the evening was, the real reward is for the people of Alaska, whose health care has been improved because Southcentral Foundation took the Baldrige challenge. Don’t people in your community deserve the benefits of Baldrige-based health care? Let me know why they are on the journey to a Baldrige Award or else, what is stopping them!

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