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News (Noticias)

Changing and Adapting To Support Our Communities

Shari Repinski
RMHS Chief Executive Officer Shari Repinski

We are rapidly approaching the two-year anniversary of the moment when our realities changed to something we had never contemplated. We had closely monitored the events in other parts of the world as serious efforts were taken to respond to a mysterious illness. We began witnessing our own country respond as major sports and community events were being canceled, cities were on the brink of shutdown, and there was a spread of worry and concern for the existence of food and supplies.

At that time, we didn’t know the full significance of the dangerous virus that was growing within our communities. There were so many questions. But we were certain that the way our employees worked together and the way we provided supports to individuals and families would need to change immediately. No longer could we rely on the traditional methods of sitting together in a conference room, at a dining room table, or at a coffee shop to be in conversation with one another.

In the weeks that followed, we began to learn that taking our workstations from our office and moving them into our homes was only a small part of the change we were experiencing. In our conversations with individuals, families, and community partners, we learned of increasing concern and stress in our communities, greater food insecurity, job loss, and the inability to sustain housing costs. We became keenly aware of the inequity in access to technology and technical skills in our communities. We listened as caregivers grew tired and parents had to become teachers to support their child in virtual classrooms.

We didn’t have all the answers. The needs were evolving and the status of community resources was ever changing. We didn’t know how long we would be in this pandemic or what was in the future. But we believed that we could become a central resource for information and that we could remain flexible and responsive to the needs of individuals, partners, and communities. We were hearing that people were experiencing a greater degree of concern and need. We realized that we had the capacity to help connect people to a wider net of supports such as helping others to feel comfortable with technology, helping with rent, or helping counter boredom by sending activities to children who suddenly had to remain in their home.

Today, we look forward to what is ahead. We hope to hold on to the changes that have created long-term benefits, such as the flexibility and efficiency found through technology. Having conversations through a computer or phone reduces travel time and allows quick connections that can be beneficial to all. We have appreciated the ability to connect to people through virtual means during the past two years. For most situations, that worked well. In the future, we hope to continue to have flexibility in the ways in which we meet with people, taking into consideration what individuals and families want and need. When we can meet in person, our recently implemented vaccination policy is intended to provide comfort to people as the RMHS employee entering their home will be fully vaccinated.

It has been a memorable two years. We have learned a lot. We believe our role has forever changed as we have seen the true benefit of looking at the whole person, rather than seeing only through the lens of a series of defined services. As individuals and families have shared stories, come to us with questions, and discussed concerns, it has stretched our knowledge. It has also strengthened our resolve to build strong bridges that support people in creating their future.

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