Deborah (Deb) Aldridge joined the Blaze Advisors team in February. She has more than 20 years’ experience in healthcare, including community care and nursing. She and her husband Stephen live in Albemarle, NC.
I grew up in small-town North Dakota and spent a great deal of time on our extended families’ farms. My parents taught me the value of hard work very early. It was always about getting the job done and done well.
During my nearly 25 years in healthcare, I have applied that same strong work ethic across various roles and projects. Much of my time recently has focused on Stanly, Rowan and Cabarrus Counties, and I look forward to continuing my work both in North Carolina and beyond to serve Blaze clients.
If I had to choose the most important aspect in my work and career today, it would be the value of relationships. As the world becomes more digitally-connected, I have watched society rely more and more on those digital connections and less and less on human to human interaction and the intentionality necessary to nurture real relationships. Society has grown to relish its digitally created personas and the ‘speed’ and ease of texting and other technologies meant to help advance humanity. Don’t get me wrong, technology can be and is wonderful; however, there is a growing chasm of disconnectedness in our inter-connected world.
Today is very different than just 20 years ago. Healthcare has adopted wonderful new advances but has also become much more complex. There are many more patients to see and less time to see them. Technology has boosted valuable speed and efficiencies but cannot fill the need for real human relationships, and a heart to understand another’s perspective, needs and challenges.
Here’s an example. In one of my previous roles, we were asked to create a collaborative focusing on the foster care population within a region. Our first step was to bring everyone into the same room to see, hear, and seek to understand each other. These conversations initially included social service workers and regional support staff. We realized almost immediately that there was severe lack of understanding of and appreciation for one another’s role and the part each partner played in a much bigger process. The Department of Social Services (DSS) spoke a different language than the clinical providers interacting with the same foster children. DSS would contact a practice to request a “check-up” for a child who had been taken into custody, which to them meant a quick once-over – very much like a sick visit. The purpose was to determine immediate needs or medications in the short term. But to providers, a “check-up” translates to a complete “well child check” which is normally a 30-minute appointment, minimum. As a result, the practices were often delaying the appointment requests because they could not accommodate the perceived time needed on their schedules, which left the DSS team frustrated – especially when they were required to have the kids evaluated in a short period of time.
The solution involved getting the DSS staff and regional providers in the same room to share their needs and challenges one-on-one. What resulted was a greater appreciation and understanding of the other’s perspective. Along with facilitating a new relationship, we created a tool in the form of a dictionary of terms for healthcare practitioners and DSS so they could speak each other’s language.
This is just one of many examples where face-to-face conversations and ongoing contact and relationship-building moved the needle and made a difference in the infrastructure surrounding foster care, and in the coordination of care for foster children themselves.
As we all know, patients live in the gap between a slew of providers set in a complex web of primary, specialty and behavioral health care. Those providers not only need good working relationships with their patients, but also with each other in order to really know and provide the best care. Those of us who have committed our lives to healthcare are here to make sure those relationships and created and remain firmly in place.
I am very excited to be at Blaze Advisors! It is my privilege to be part of such a great team – one that shares my values for serving the community built on the power of relationships.
You can read more about Deb's professional experience on our Leadership Page.