Posts Categorized: Culture

Venezuela donations

Values in Action: Addressing Needs in Venezuela

At Iora Health, our mission is to restore humanity to health care. Each day, our teams lead the way by showing courage, creativity, empathy, humility and passion.

We see these values embodied in large and small ways every day. A compassionate encounter with a patient, an empathetic ear for a colleague, or recently, through a passion project by an Iora employee.

Gabrielena (Gaby) Alcala, director of Medicare Risk Operations, saw the decline in quality of life in Venezuela with her own eyes. Her father was ill and she saw the struggle to get his basic medical supplies. Unfortunately, his situation was not unique in Venezuela. Once-controlled diseases like diphtheria and measles have returned due to insufficient vaccines and antibiotics and Venezuelans suffering from chronic illnesses like cancer or diabetes must often forgo treatment for lack of supplies.

Motivated by the struggles of Venezuelans to access basic healthcare, Gaby reached out to her fellow Iorans for aid. The response she received was overwhelming.

In an email to Iorans, she described how Venezuela is experiencing one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world. She shared that Venezuela is facing an 85 percent shortage of medicine, an economic crisis, severe hyperinflation and food scarcity. She contrasted this with the United States, where two out of three dispensed medications go unused and are discarded. National projected costs range from $2.4 billion to $5.4 billion in wasted prescriptions.

Gaby had a simple ask, “Do you have unused prescriptions or medical supplies you can donate?”

Here are some of the responses:

“I have a box of things that I’d like to go to a good cause!”

“Thank you for finding this opportunity for us, we really appreciate the honor to be able to do this.”

“I would much rather send to places that need things than throw things away.”

“Definitely!! Thanks for reaching out to the practices. Perfect timing too for our Earth Day efforts…love it!”

“This should be something that happens every six months so that things don’t go to waste.”

Gaby coordinated the supply donation to the Programa de Ayuda Humanitaria para Venezuela, which has strong ties with health providers and hospitals in Venezuela. With the program’s aid, the items were sent to where they were needed most. Now, Iora Primary Care practices are aware of the donation opportunities for unused medical supplies and can continue to support places in need on a regular basis.

There is a tradition at Iora Health that on your company anniversary you can reflect on your time at Iora. In Gaby’s reflection she said, “I have learned many things during my tenure at Iora, but the most important one is that I work with the kindest people I have ever met.”

Everyone rallying together in support of Venezuela demonstrated Iora Health’s mission and the passion that Iorans bring to their work every day.

 Thank you to Gaby and the local care team members for their efforts! It’s inspiring to work with you!

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Interested in joining a team that is committed to making a difference? Check out our current job openings and apply!

Amy Veronneau

Why I joined Iora – A Nurse’s story

As a Registered Nurse, I have played many roles in multiple hospital systems throughout my career. When I worked as a Float Pool Nurse, I supported a multitude of nursing floors, chronic conditions and environments. I discovered that although the hospital is intended to be a place for healing, there are many problems: when a patient is in pain, we push pain medication, and when we see a patient with a chronic condition, we put a Band-Aid on them with medications and temporary interventions—without always taking the time to find the underlying cause. The intentions are good, but the execution is poor, especially when nurses are given so many patients that we aren’t allotted the time to provide adequate education, let alone understand the entire patient situation.

After much frustration with a broken hospital system, I found Iora Primary Care. At Iora, our mission is to restore humanity to health care… and this is so much more than just a slogan. Everyone at Iora takes action to make a difference in the lives of our patients. The patients have longer initial visits with us, where team members spend time with the patient to understand the patient’s goals, desires, support system, and comfort with his/her illness, and we then provide education. We share the medical chart with the patient—which is unheard of at other institutions!

I have finally found a place where I can make a difference….not through pushing medications or through the agenda of the institution I work for, but by working with the patients to help them live their fullest and healthiest lives. I couldn’t be happier as a Nurse at Iora Primary Care.

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A part of something bigger

What led me here to Iora? That’s an interesting question. Healthcare was never interesting to me. I went to school for filmmaking and the only real thoughts I had of the health system was that it was expensive. I avoided doctors and hospitals like the plague. Being healthy, I could get away with that.

Then, life changed. I met my husband, a type 1 diabetic, and about nine months later, my video editing job came to an end. After several months of hard thought I realized that while I was pretty good at filmmaking, it wasn’t the right place for me. Not knowing what was, I took a job doing accounts receivable at a Skilled Nursing Facility.

Work was disheartening. I watched families struggle to try and figure out how to pay for rehab and long term care. I called 85 year old widows on social security to tell them they owed money for their time with us while they were trying to figure out how they were going to pay to heat their house that winter. And the worst was the sad realization that the work wasn’t about what was right for the patients, but rather what was best for the facility.

And it was just as disheartening on the personal side. There was a lack of communication between my husband’s doctors. We had little to no support in general, especially when we had to figure out how to do what the doctors prescribed. While his primary care doctor was better than most, she didn’t have the time to spend with him or with his specialists that would have been truly beneficial. We felt like numbers, not names and certainly not people.

We are told from a young age that we can do anything we put our minds to; that we can change the world. But on so many levels, at work and at home, it felt like I was constantly swimming upstream, with someone telling me why we couldn’t do something, why some change or another wouldn’t work. Just three years out of school and I had stopped believing that change was possible.

The spring after we got married, I started looking for a new job. I stumbled across an administrative/finance position at Iora Health. While I had no interest in continuing in healthcare, I needed to pay my bills. Honestly, I didn’t expect much, but when I read the company description, I felt an immediate connection. You could feel the honesty in it. These people believed they could change things.

I applied for the job knowing that I could do about half of what they were looking for, and that I could learn the rest if someone was willing to teach me. I never expected that I would actually get a call, but the next day I received an email asking for a phone screen. After talking to Paul Dufault for a half hour, I was hooked. I dug up everything I could on Iora (which wasn’t much beyond the The New Yorker’s “The Hot Spotters” article), and the more I read, the more excited I got. As the interview process progressed, I realized that I wanted this job more than I’d ever wanted any job. What they were doing made so much sense to me. I never thought about the fact that it was a start up or that in six months I may not have a job, or that they could fail. It didn’t matter to me; I wanted to be a part of this.

When Iora’s Chief Operating Officer, Zander Packard, told me that they wanted to hire me but they weren’t sure when they could bring me on, I told him I would wait. We set up a time to check in in a few weeks. That was in March of 2012 and I started in May and haven’t looked back since.

The past three years have been an incredible journey. I’ve watched the company grow from 30 people with two practices in two states, to 150+ people with 12 practices in seven states. I’ve grow in leaps and bounds as my role evolves. I’ve done everything from ordering lunch and scheduling meetings, to writing company policies and creating processes. I found a company that believes that if you do the right thing, the rest of the pieces will fall into place. The bottom line is important, but it’s not the first thing.

Margaret Mead once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I never felt that this was a truer statement than I have working with this amazing group of people at Iora Health.