Alivation’s New Year’s Resolutions

We like to think we can always do better.

Perhaps that’s a radical statement, but we believe it. For us, Next Level also applies to ourselves as an organization. Of course, Alivation doesn’t make the sort of resolutions the average person does. According to polls, the most common New Year’s resolutions are exercising more, eating healthier, and saving more money. We’re not able to exercise more, or eat healthier, of course, but saving money? Sure, that’s something an organization could strive for.

But it isn’t the kind of resolution we mean.

Don’t get us wrong: all those resolutions are very beneficial to an individual. Our resolutions are a little broader, but no less important to our health and well-being. They aren’t as easy to define, but that doesn’t mean they are indefinable. Rather, our resolutions are centered on the way we grow, how we treat others, our place in our community, our engagement levels with patients, and the ways we’ll reach more people in the coming year.

It’s no secret that we’ve grown a lot in 2018. We’ve added a lot of staff, and it seems likely we’ll add more in 2019. We resolve to grow more because our increased staff numbers allow us to see more patients, and to potentially help even more people. We don’t need a New Year’s resolution to see more patients, but we like to take the opportunity to reinforce our commitment to the betterment of the larger community. We never stop sharing our message, no matter the time of year. We’ll keep striving to best educate our patients on their options, and the possibilities we have for the betterment of their care.

Part of how we’ll do that is expanding our marketing and our reach. We want to make sure everyone who needs help is aware of us, and of how approachable we are for whatever challenges they face. Pursuing that goal, we’ll revamp our website, add more content, and reach out more through different mediums both electronic and print. As many people can hear about us, and more importantly, of the help that is available to them, the better. We want to be the brain health experts. We have the tools, the talent, the staff and the setup to make it happen. It may be a longer term goal, but there’s no harm in pledging ourselves to better things at this time of year. Next Level is every day, all the time.

For our last resolution, we’ll need some help.

We’ll need help from patients in letting us know how we can do better for them. We welcome the feedback. We love to hear ideas from our team members for how we can better serve our population as well, and for how we can see more and find novel ways to increase our already-great quality of care. We still believe in improvement no matter how great we are. There’s always room for it, and the sky’s the limit. We resolve to always consider the best new technology to better treat our patients, and to consider the best financial options for those who need assistance but have trouble with the cost. We always need people to be open and honest, and our final resolution is to take sincere and useful suggestions to heart, the better to improve and evolve in the best ways possible.

We are beyond excited for the opportunities 2019 holds.

***

Alivation’s Year-End Awards

On Friday, December 14th, we hosted our annual holiday party in the Haymarket. (If you haven’t yet seen the pictures, you can see them here). We have a tradition of awards and recognition for those team members who have really stood out the past year, not only to the executive team, but to their peers and coworkers. When we have a consensus, it makes the process even more valuable. It isn’t just about performance, either—we like to have fun here. Dapper Dude and Fashionista are among our more light-hearted categories that also recognize those who bring great personalities and Next Level fashion to the office.

We have too many great people to honor in one night, but here’s a full breakdown of the awards as presented:

For our superlative awards:

  • Happy Go Lucky, the most fun and cheerful person who isn’t panicked or flustered when the going gets tough: Jen
  • Fashionista, the gal who is the best dressed and always up to date with the latest trends: Leah
  • Dapper Dude, the guy whose style game is always on point: Huzaifa
  • Social Butterfly, the person who’s never met a stranger and is always up for a chat: Maria
  • Honest Abe, the person who is honest no matter what, good or bad: Kayla A.
  • Hidden Treasure, the person who everyone knows is amazing but doesn’t always get the recognition they deserve: Veronica
  • Kitchen Sink, a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it…so this person rolls up their sleeves and does the not so fun tasks, even if it’s not their “job”: Will
  • Spark, the person who doesn’t accept the way things have always been and acts as a springboard for change. They do things differently and aren’t afraid to speak up or stand out: Heidi

Special awards:

  • Next Level Performance Award, to the individual that inspires and develops others to achieve excellence. This individual leads by example and makes everyone around them better as a result. This person, regardless of title or role, creates a spark in their peers: Elliott Robb
  • Ideal Team Player Award, presented to the individual who models the behavior of an ideal team player – Humble, Hungry, Smart: Jen Gloria
  • Pat Duffy Patient Care Award, presented to the individual who lives and breathes patient care. They ago above and beyond to ensure an individualized, exceptional patient experience. This person is a daily example of what it means to have a passion for new possibilities and better outcomes for every patient that chooses Alivation to partner in their treatment journey: Kristi Fries

All Star Team Awards, presented to the individuals from each department who have gone above and beyond in collaborating and partnering with their peers to deliver excellent outcomes:

  • Managers: Heidi
  • Billing: Maria
  • Patient Experience: Huzaifa
  • Administrative Support: Elliott
  • Clinical Support: Sheema
  • Nursing: Liz and Morgan
  • Patient Services: Tony and Taeler
  • Pharmacy: Rikki
  • Research: Katy
  • Providers: Bryan Beals and Kristi

Team Captain Awards:

  • Elliott Robb and Liz Sundling

In addition to the awards presented, Alivation made a sizable contribution to Jordan Knapp’s Keep Out the Cold charity as part of the company’s annual program of donations to worthy, proven causes with outstanding benefits to the community. We hope to keep helping people in numerous ways for years to come through this system, and Jordan’s cause is one we were happy to get behind.

But our holiday party isn’t only an awards ceremony, or a good excuse to dress up and dance. It’s also an opportunity for our many new team members to meet and mingle with their new coworkers, and get to know one another in a less formal setting than the office. We have a lot of staff now—we’ve grown quite fast lately—and with the size of our building and busyness of different departments, we don’t often have a chance to all be in the same room together. It’s almost like a company reunion. Like everything we do, even our celebrations are Next Level.

With our outstanding growth, maybe next year’s party will have even more great nominees and more categories to fill.

***

Alivation’s Seasonal Spirit

Alivation is proud of its diversity.

We have many modes of thinking, many modes of beliefs, many avenues of Next Level Care for our patients. We’re not a uniform bunch, and that’s what sets us apart from more conventional organizations. And this same diversity applies to our year-end celebratory efforts and how we choose to give back.

The end of the year is when we, culturally speaking, start thinking about others, our contributions to others, and what we can do to brighten the days of others. Next Level doesn’t just apply to our care, but in how we treat and reach out. Each year, team members of Alivation donate gifts to the kids at CEDARS. It’s a wonderful cause. Our hope is to do all we can to brighten their days and give them something special. This year, we had too many presents the first time around for one trip. We’re making another one later this week. This is the sort of thing we’re overjoyed about. Our culture encourages helping others in any manner they might need it. Our team members are generous in spirit.

Jordan Knapp, one of our Collaborative Care Coordinators, heads the “Keep the Cold Out” charity, where he collects winter clothing for the homeless. He was once homeless himself—he knows firsthand that in the cold Nebraskan winters the gift of a coat can make the difference in someone surviving.

Our holiday party is being held on Friday, December 14th. The theme is Roaring Twenties, and we’ll be dressed to the nines for a fun evening. On top of just having a good time with our fellow team members, we also hand out awards to those who have gone above and beyond in several categories. We’ve always believed in giving shout-outs and recognition to those who truly exemplify the Next Level spirit throughout the year. It’s always hard to choose—so many people make good candidates for these awards. We’re blessed with an abundance of talent, drive and passion.

It’s always been important to us to be more than just a healthcare facility, or another organization. Our ambitions are lofty, but justified: we want to be an integral part of the community, and an integral part of countless patients’ personal journeys to their own Next Level. We don’t set small goals for ourselves because we don’t want to achieve small things. We want to help as many people as possible, and in as many ways as they can be reached.

We encourage everyone to give a moment or two to think of the needs of others, and the meanings and feelings of this season. With a new year rapidly approaching, this is when we make our goals and our resolutions. Please, if you’re able, donate to the kids at CEDARS. Donate a coat to Jordan’s charity. There are many, many other fine charities ongoing throughout Lincoln this time as well, which are listed at the link below. Donate to whichever you like, or all. Give what you can to help others get to their Next Level. We have a vibrant team culture, and working together is monumentally important to us. We love taking the time to recognize the heart and spirit that makes better things possible.

Lincoln Charities:

https://greatnonprofits.org/city/lincoln/NE

***

Genetic Testing and Cheek Swabs

 

In the old days of medicine, if you had a diagnosed condition and were prescribed a medication to treat it, you took the medication and hoped for the best outcome. Possible side effects, based on extensive lab testing and FDA notices, were discussed before you took it. They ranged the gamut from medication to medication—some side effects were mild, dry mouth, headache, upset stomach, etc. Compared to the benefits reaped from the prescription, these were all minor deficiencies.

But sometimes there were others.

Certain medications could work well in one patient, but then cause unwanted adverse reactions in another. Liver or kidney failure, uncontrollable bleeding, stroke, and even death occurred in the worst cases. Clearly, the benefits did not outweigh the risks of these medications. It’s thought that about half of filled prescriptions are not taken as directed, and a big reason for this is the associated side effects[i].

Wouldn’t it be nice, people said, if they could know the likelihood that they would experience adverse effects before they started treatment with a new prescription.

Which leads us to today.

Pharmacogenetic testing is the use of genetic information to help predict whether someone is more likely to experience the side effects and potential outcomes of certain medications. The idea is that your biology, specifically your genes, can tell us what medications you’ll be susceptible to, and what alternatives might work better. For examples from Harvard Health:

  • Azathioprine: this is an immune-suppressing medication that some people have trouble metabolizing due to the genes they inherited; a blood test prior to the start of treatment can identify those most at risk.
  • Allopurinol: certain ethnic groups (e.g., those of Han Chinese or Thai extraction) are more likely to carry a gene that increases the risk of a severe allergic reaction to allopurinol, a medication primarily used to treat gout[ii].

At Alivation, pharmacogenetic testing is conducted via a cheek swab. It’s one of the least invasive methods of collecting genetic data. A patient simply sits and thoroughly rubs the inside of their cheek with a cotton swab. You can’t overdo it, but you can underdo it, so it’s encouraged that you swab for around thirty seconds. This swab is then sent to the lab, and around two weeks later the results come back.

When your genetic information is taken from the cheek swab, the lab then possesses that information. Since you own your genetics, however, what they do with it after the test is up to you. With your consent, they will conduct genetic research and testing using the sample. Totally anonymous, and you won’t ever hear about it. But if you request the information destroyed, they will discard the sample and retain nothing from the test once it is conducted and finished. You always own your genetics. When you undergo the cheek swab, you’re allowing us to merely rent your information for the time it takes to ensure the best possible treatment for your condition.

There will always be challenges to medical side effects and genetic testing. Although pharmacogenetic testing is very useful, it isn’t perfect, and there are still many conditions we can’t predict yet. Moreover, every patient is different, and it is important to note that the test is just another piece of valuable information to help providers determine the best treatment option. But the science gets better every day. We offer genetic testing because it’s part of our Next Level creed. We want people to have the best possible treatments with all medications, and the potential reduction in side effects before they happen is certainly worth it.

[i] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/genetic-testing-to-predict-medication-side-effects-2017101612517

[ii] Ibid.