Things I think: Windmills of change

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

I've driven up and down Oregon's Columbia River Gorge roughly 486 times, give or take a thousand, for the past three decades. It's a gorgeous drive from Walla Walla to Portland, and one icy winter, I even enjoyed all that rugged, natural beauty from a new perspective — hanging upside down in my top-heavy Toyota 4Runner. 

Over all those years, the view itself hasn't really changed — except for the windmills. They're everywhere now, like sentinels guarding the river from the hillsides and cliffs. Some people hate them and think they scar the landscape. But personally, I'm growing quite fond of those towering turbines. To me, they symbolize boldness and imagination, the utilization of wasted space, the triumph of form and function. I could go on, but should probably keep my eyes on the road.

That's also the way I see the best long-term care providers these days — like windmills dotting the landscape of America. You're the thinkers and doers with minds constantly spinning, people who haven't cowered under a broken system or waited passively for reform. You struck out boldly, investing and innovating in areas from technology and quality improvement to facility redesign. Now the ideas you've pioneered are hitting the mainstream, transmitting through the power grid for the betterment of all.

Your staff are windmills too, a thought that crossed my mind frequently at the recent LeadingAge national meeting. Individually, long-term care employees can too easily see themselves as disconnected and alone. But at
an event like this they ask questions of experts, share challenges and swap solutions with peers. They realize, maybe for the first time, that they're all in this together, and can be a vital collective power source.

I'm sure that convention budget line item is an easy one to cut, but I hope you don't. Why? Because your people will come back home energized as tireless windmills of commitment and change. 

Gary Tetz writes from his secret lair somewhere near Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.




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