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Leading in Difficult Times: COVID-19 & Beyond

Part 4 of a conversation with Esmaeil Porsa, MD, MPH, MBA, CCHP-P, CCHP-A, Ron Charpentier, MBA, and Kevin Counihan, with Brent Gibson, MD, MPH, CCHP-P, moderating. Read Part 3: Racism and Inequity

Dr. Gibson: Looking to the future, what are your thoughts?

Mr. Counihan: It feels to me like we’re at a crossroads. I know there are a million reasons why things can’t be done. There are a million reasons for institutional resistance to change. But we need to challenge ourselves to somehow overcome that resistance. If we can’t figure this out in 2021, I think we’re failing to some degree. We can do nothing and perpetuate the status quo, or we can use this as an opportunity to raise the bar for ourselves and for our clients.

Dr. Porsa: During the early months of the pandemic, many jails in this country worked with their local sheriffs’ offices and other legal entities to depopulate the jails to a great extent. In terms of a crisis being an opportunity for innovation and learning, what a great opportunity! How wonderful would it be if we could learn those lessons and keep the number of incarcerated to a minimum? Both because it’s the right thing to do, and because it reduces the cost of care inside the correctional setting.

Mr. Charpentier: This pandemic has been really challenging. We’ve all struggled to try to understand the virus. From an infectious disease control and management perspective, it’s very different to battle a virus that is transmitted by air or droplets rather than transmitted sexually or via needles. We’ve had to work hard to figure out how to protect the people in our facility and our staffs.

For our industry, it has mandated we take our game to the next level. We’ve had to figure out the amount of effort required to do something this complex, for example, the amount of innovation and planning, how we get organized, and how we execute on strategy. Hopefully we are building some muscle memory in terms of being able to execute on solutions that address difficult challenges. Hopefully we’ve built systems and put processes in place that are going to help us to do well, not only as we finish out this virus, but with the next virus that is sure to come along.

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