The Healthcare Intelligence Network would like to congratulate Danielle Butin, whose enthusiastic presentations on health coaching and developing confidence and self-management skills for the chronically ill have been favorites here at HIN. Over the last year, Butin has found another way to make a difference in disease management, this time on a global scale. Appalled by the lack of medical supplies she learned about during a 2007 trip to Tanzania, she has launched a donation-based clearinghouse of medical supplies to benefit the medically needy in Africa.
The initiative, called the Afya Foundation, procures and ships vital supplies necessary to support medical and surgical initiatives worldwide, with a primary focus on Africa. Supplies are donated and gathered from hospitals, surgical centers and corporations. According to its Web site, the organization's goal is to "serve as a donation-based clearinghouse for the international health community."
A story about Ms. Butin and the AFYA Foundation was featured on the front page of yesterday's New York Times:
Ms. Butin, who calls her new project Afya Foundation of America — afya is Swahili for health — doesn’t believe in wasting supplies. She doesn’t believe in wasting time, either. In the time it takes her to get from the first floor of a hospital to the 17th, she’ll grill a nurse on the elevator about how to tell the difference between an operating room table and a heavy-duty stretcher (the table is heavier). If she’s waiting for a Jamba Juice at Whole Foods, she’ll ask the store manager if the market would donate cooking supplies for the kitchens of overseas hospitals in need (yes, she eventually heard from the Union Square store). It’s a straightforward system, really: She asks, and usually, people say yes.
Ms. Butin embraces this out-of-the-box (and into the 40-foot Haiti-bound container stuffed with medical supplies) initiative with the same zeal that categorized her presentations to our audiences on health coaching over the last few years.
During a 2005 audio conference on health coaching for disease management, Butin said:
The concept of health coaching begins with the philosophy that we are teaching people how to fish. We are not fixing their diabetes; we are not testing their glucose; we are not going to take care of everyone. Rather, we are going to teach the tools and tricks an individual needs to develop confidence in a new language or new script in life and move forward.
To build a health coaching program for this population, where the primary focus is developing confidence in managing one’s health, the first requirement for health plans and providers is to think “out-of-the-box" because if we expect people to learn by doing, we must train them on the same philosophy.
This "learn by doing" philosophy is grounded in her background in occupational therapy. When the former healthcare executive's organization was charged with writing a self-management course book, Butin and her staff spent eight hours in a bookstore reading "every medical book geared toward self-management for an older adult population that we could find."
And in a later conference about identifying high-risk populations to decrease the likelihood of hospital readmissions, Butin said:
About 22 to 24 percent of our new enrollees actually scored at high risk for malnutrition. In response — and I have to emphasize that it is pointless to screen if you don’t have a program or solid intervention to back up what you’re going to do — we created a nutrition benefit.
HIN wishes Ms. Butin the best of luck with this new venture. While much of the AFYA's Web site is still under construction, the organization can be reached at:
216 Lake Street,
Yonkers, NY 10701
Telephone: + 1 914-207-1008
FAX: + 1 914-207-1005