Part of our family’s holiday season tradition is the annual watching of “IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE”. The movie is –in my opinion, anyway--a masterpiece of happiness and positivity. The primary lesson of the movie is that our deeds, both good and bad, have a profound effect on the lives of other people in our circle of friends and family. The main character, George Bailey, finds out in dream sequences reminiscent of Charles Dicken’s “A CHRISTMAS CAROL” that his life has had profound meaning because of his good work, kind deeds, and charitable attitude.
We see George’s life explained in detail through flashbacks, in which he’s guided by a hapless angel-in-waiting trying to earn his wings by helping George see that his life has had meaning. Saving his brother from drowning as a child has allowed his brother to save countless lives heroically in the war. Preventing a grieving pharmacist from making a mistake that could kill a patient allowed the pharmacy to flourish and succeed in the town where the movie is set. George staying in town to run the family business, a savings and loan that specializes in financing homes for low income families, has led to prosperity for a whole generation of citizens. In the end, George realizes his life has had great and wonderful meaning—that it’s been a wonderful life! The angel gets his wings because George sees the light. Despite financial struggles, despite countless setbacks, despite the fact that the savings and loan his family runs is about to go under, George is surrounded by his friends and neighbors, the citizens of the town who George has helped. George’s brother leads a toast “To my brother George Bailey, the richest man in town”. Pan to a picture of an inscription in a book that reads, “Remember George, no man is a failure if he has friends.”
The movie is the ultimate feel good story: Quaint, uplifting, and beautifully told. The recurring theme is that you measure your success by the good work you do and the people you help.
It’s not much of a stretch to draw parallels to our industry and our companies.
Most of us in the DME industry plod along doing as good a job as we know how to do. We struggle at times with declining reimbursement, increased competition by larger corporate DME organizations, recruiting and retaining quality employees, paying employees enough to retain them, providing care that includes a lot of non-reimbursed services and supplies, and lately—even global pandemics. Yet, the rewards are still there if you look closely and stay focused on why you are in this line of work. For every Medicare audit, there’s a grateful patient/customer who realizes your services have made their life a little better. For every employee that leaves without providing notice, there’s a bunch of employees who are able to support their family and be productive because of the business. For every disgruntled customer, there’s someone in your community singing the praises of your company and what you did for them. For every product line you are forced to drop, there’s a new technological breakthrough that results in new and improved equipment and treatment modalities. The old “When one door closes, another one opens” inspirational poster is alive and well in the American business scene!
Especially during the holiday season, it’s helpful and important to stay grounded and remind yourself of all the good and important work your organization does. Take time over the holidays to tell your employees you value the work they do and remind them how important it is. Reach out to your customer/patients and let them know it’s a privilege to be able to serve them and you hope your service reflects that sentiment. Tell your vendors, manufacturers, and all the various services that support your company that their work and customer service are important to you and very much appreciated. Pack a bunch of meaning into that “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” banner in your store or office’s front window.
On behalf of all the folks at HQAA, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for a blessed and prosperous New Year!