February 29, 2016

 In The Messenger

Right Care Boston gets a name and a mission
by Kim DiGioia, MSPH

“We need a new system.”

Those were some of the opening words from Vikas Saini, MD, at the most recent meeting of Right Care Boston. The revolutionary energy at the Old South Church meeting was palpable, and when doctors, nurses, and others stood up to share their stories of working within a broken system, it was clear that this group stands not for piecemeal fixes, but rather an entirely new system, co-produced by the public, patients, and health professionals. And there was an incredible sense of necessity and urgency. Allan Ropper, MD, shared, “I just don’t see that we have a choice. It’s either this or capitulate. And how can you do that when you’re in a profession that is committed to a social good?”

This group has agreed that the first step to achieving the right care — care that is effective, affordable, personal, and just — in Boston is to engage the community and simply listen to what is important to them in health care. At the meeting, Aaron Stupple, MD, and Aura Berciano-Reyes and Jose Berciano, both of them immigrant custodial workers and  members of the  UNITE HERE labor union, demonstrated  the power of listening to uncover  individual and community priorities in the movement to improve health care. In response to the question, “What message would you have for doctors?” Berciano-Reyes said that doctors need to devote more time to listening:  “The time is so, so important. It’s difficult to say everything you need to in just one appointment.”

Since the meeting, the Boston organizing committee has decided on an interim name: Right Care Boston. This group has embarked on two parallel tracks: 1) a strategy of house parties and one-on-one meetings to recruit more health professionals into the work, and 2) the process of planning the Listening Tour in Boston neighborhoods. The goal of these two tracks is to identify common concerns and themes in order to define issues to tackle in the next phase of this work. All involved are excited and hungry for change, and are ready to roll up their sleeves to begin the work.

The two tracks kicked off with recruitment trainings: in-person training sessions took place last week, led by Stephanie Aines, the new Manager of Network Organizing at the Lown Institute. These training sessions help participants learn how to build relationships within a movement, and articulate shared values in order to leverage organizing as a force to spark change.  An experienced organizer,  Aines explains,  “Movements are built person-to-person, and recruitment is the main work of any movement.”  Engaging “fellow travelers” who are motivated by similar frustrations and shared hope for a better future is how we will begin to listen, define priorities, andtake back health!

Learn more about the work of the Right Care Alliance at www.rightcarealliance.org.

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