Episode 17 of the More than Health Care: A Community Health Conversation podcast is now available on the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ website and on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. Every other week, a new episode uncovers keys to collaboration and holistic health in pursuit of improved health outcomes and lower costs for all.  

In 1995, the Milwaukee-based social service organization Family Service of Milwaukee merged with Aurora Healthcare, a large, Wisconsin-based, healthcare provider. From this union, Aurora Family Service at Aurora Healthcare was born. And while this merger provided opportunities, there would also be challenges. Jane Pirsig is the executive director of Aurora Family Service, who has experienced all aspects of the unification from its start. This includes honoring different viewpoints between the formally separate groups while working to understand the needs of both to bridge gaps. “Both groups’ perspectives are correct, but how do we create environments in which there’s the right work done at the right time by the right person,” explains Pirsig.

However, she believes that offering both social and healthcare opportunities under one umbrella benefits those needing help through a full array of services. “So, when I have a broken arm, I love it that the “doc” can look at my arm, know everything about the arm … when it’s how my arm needs to be rehabbed, then I want a rehab person who thinks about what is my daily life about,” said Pirsig. Now, in this new, combined setting, medical personnel concentrate on treatment while Pirsig’s group handles the social aspects of aftercare and environment. This allows for a respectful, healthy difference between the healthcare and social perspectives and enhances strengths while preserving each’s culture to benefit those served.

Pirsig knows that the combination of healthcare and social services is one that will adjust and change over time, even through trial and error. And while she sees this advancement happening on a project by project basis, Pirsig is confident that both cultures can work together through an ongoing learning process.
Right work. Right time. Right person.

Listen as Pirsig explains the need for understanding and respect when healthcare and social service sectors combine through a merger in Episode 17 of the  More than Health Care Podcast  available through the Alliance website or subscribe on the Apple Podcast, Google Play, or Spotify apps

About the Podcast

While many are realizing that collaboration and holistic approaches are the solution, the health care and human services sectors are struggling to find the right formula to realize the full potential. The More than Health Care podcast is designed to help organizations overcome barriers to partnerships resulting from cultural differences, financial pressures, and rules and regulations. 

In addition to showcasing inspiring examples of integration from across the country, featured experts will expose the myths, misconceptions, and shortcomings of efforts to address the social determinants of health through collaboration across sectors. 

This podcast is presented by the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Ascentria Care Alliance, and Beech Acres Parenting Center. Cohosts Jill Huynh, vice president of new business development at Beech Acres, and Tim Johnstone, executive vice president of community services at Ascentria, work at the intersection of health and human services, bringing the expertise and practical experience to uncover key takeaways for improving health care and human services integration. 

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Learn more about the Alliance's efforts to improve population health and well-being.