December 10, 2019

Being Principled: Doing The Right Thing

As the year winds down and we enter the holiday season, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to each of you.  Whether you are a provider, a DBHDD staff member, an elected official, an advocate, or part of one of the many agencies and organizations that support the people we serve, your work makes a meaningful difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Georgians who count on you.

I hope that during this time of year, each of you has the opportunity to spend time with loved ones and reflect on what means the most to you personally.  To our providers and hospital staff who spend the holidays at work caring for others, I extend a special note of thanks to you for making the people we serve feel safe and valued. 

As I think about what I am grateful for, three things come to mind: my family, the thousands of dedicated individuals who work at DBHDD and in our safety net network, and the opportunity to lead our efforts.  Our ability to serve can only be as effective as the team doing the work, and I have a great deal of pride because I know ours is a team filled with purpose and commitment. 

Within DBHDD, we often talk about our strengths and how we use them to be more effective in our work.  One of my top strengths is being principled.  To me, being principled means that I care about doing the right thing.  I know that I am in good company because so many of you share this priority.  The people who are attracted to work at DBHDD and become leaders in our organization are people who share a passion for knowing and doing the right thing.    

As Georgia’s public safety net, we serve some of our state’s most vulnerable individuals, which can give rise to complex situations and difficult decisions.  We are also faced with workforce shortages, serving an aging population, and uncertainty about the future health care environment.  As we look ahead to 2020, change and unpredictability are inevitable.  While this uncertainty may be unsettling to some, I see a landscape full of opportunities for our team and network to engage, inform, and impact our future. 

In Georgia’s dynamic environment, we are called to quick and responsive action often in very difficult situations.  In every situation, my expectation is that we will do what is right.  Doing the right thing means being responsive.  When we are called to act, the first step is to listen and identify the problem, and then make our best effort to solve it in a timely manner.  Sometimes, a solution is simple, but at other times, it requires diligence and perseverance to see the issue through until it is resolved.  When an issue cannot be resolved immediately, part of doing the right thing is staying connected throughout the process – to our team members, the person we are helping, and all resources necessary to achieve the desired result – and providing regular updates to those depending on us for information. 

We are all grounded by certain rules of right and wrong, and our policies serve as a guide for our actions, but each of you is in your role because we are relying on your judgment, your experience, your wisdom, and your pledge to being principled.  Sometimes doing the right thing means acknowledging when something was not done right or admitting a mistake.  This is often uncomfortable, but it can be an essential part of making things right.  Doing the right thing, even and especially when it is uncomfortable, can be a refuge because we can always support one another when we take the honorable path.    

I want to close by underscoring how grateful I am to lead a team that I know shares my commitment to conscientious and compassionate work for the people we serve and our stakeholders.  Ultimately, we are an organization of people serving people.  If we stay focused on our promise to do the right thing, guided by our policies, and values, we will continue to provide high-quality services and be well-positioned to lead in the health care environment of the future.


Judy Fitzgerald, Commissioner

The time is always right to do what is right.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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