We are in the people business

Happy New Year!  I hope that your holiday season was filled with joy.

As we begin 2020, I am filled with hope and enthusiasm as I see a landscape full of opportunities to serve Georgians in need and also to impact the health care environment of the future in our state.  We have been included in many vital conversations regarding health care.  There is a growing recognition of the importance of mental health and substance use disorders, and also acknowledgement of the growing population and needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  DBHDD and members of our provider network have remarkable experience, expertise, and commitment to high-quality service that has enabled a measurable transformation of our system across our five state hospitals and our network of community-based services.  We are also fortunate to have strong and knowledgeable advocates, clients, and family members who challenge us to be persistent in our demand for improved access and resources.  Together, we seek solutions that are not separate from health care conversations, but rather a vital part of the dialogue in Georgia.

DBHDD’s role as the state authority signifies an important responsibility to build, grow, and lead an effective and accountable continuum of care.  As we assess the landscape, we recognize an important truth: While we operate in the health care environment, we are in the “people” business.  Compassion and commitment are essential workforce assets.  In addition, we desire to be strategic about the most efficient use of resources that offers the greatest positive impact.  This desire called us to develop priorities for DBHDD that will support our need to be transparent and to deliver outcomes.  We established four priorities to serve as objectives that will guide our work.  In the coming months, I’ll be saying more about each of the four objectives and the ways in which they serve as a shared roadmap for success.

As we start a new decade, it seems only right to start the conversation with the most meaningful and personal of these objectives:

Be a team of individuals who are effective, engaged, empowered, and recognized.

You will likely agree that without a full embrace of this objective, it is difficult to achieve any other goals to lead Georgia’s public safety net toward recovery and independence. The people business places many demands on our workforce, but we believe that despite the challenges, each of us can find ways to make meaningful contributions to our network.  

What does it mean to be effective?  We have to be doing the right work in the right way toward the right goal.  This requires our team to be trained, informed, open to change, willing to ask questions, focused on our mission to serve others and on driving for results.

What does an engaged team look like?  Engaged team members are seeking connections and opportunities to excel.  DBHDD team members or providers going above and beyond standards and requirements to assist others are hallmarks of an engaged workforce.  When I witness acts of incredible compassion and collaboration, I know that the power of engagement is present in Georgia.  Sustaining that engagement is the ongoing challenge for our leaders, and I am full of optimism because of the commitment I see from our team to the people we serve.

What do we know about empowerment?  Empowered team members are vital to progress.  Across health care, status quo means standing still, and ultimately, falling behind.  Individuals must be prepared and knowledgeable, and they must also be given the tools and the support to make decisions and deploy good judgment in complex environments.  DBHDD has made an intentional commitment to become a Learning Organization: One in which we grow and develop through awareness, education, training, collaboration, and commitment to excellence.  A Learning Organization that employs empowered team members demonstrates humility.  We make mistakes, and it is in the review and correction of those mistakes that we truly learn and grow.  We place high value on honest communication, apologies when necessary, and above all, ameliorating or fixing those problems that we encounter.

Our team members must also be recognized for efforts and for achievements.  In the same way that we lift the people we serve through a strengths-based lens and a bias toward growth, recovery, and independence, we must work to see and recognize simple steps forward and the tireless service occurring across the network every hour of the day.  I urge each of you, inside our service delivery system and out, to seek out examples of excellence and dedication.  When you observe these exemplary efforts take a moment to commend and acknowledge those individuals who deliver outstanding care and customer service.  

We see the daunting challenges ahead.  My belief in a workforce that will continue efforts to be effective, engaged, empowered, and recognized is the foundation of my optimism for 2020.  I know our shared commitment to this objective will be at the heart of positive changes for people with behavioral health challenges and intellectual and developmental disabilities in Georgia.  I am grateful for the privilege to collaborate with each of you.




Judy Fitzgerald


Related to: