When people think of health care and hospitals, they often think of nurses, doctors and others who give direct care. But there are thousands of Iowans who work “behind the scenes” at hospitals who are just as dedicated to making sure the highest quality care is provided every day. Kathy Leggett, director of the Center for Advocacy and Outreach at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, is one of those people.
I don’t think I realized the impact I could have when I was first hired at Blank Children’s Hospital as a coordinator of pediatric outreach education. That was almost 15 years ago. I wasn’t a stranger to hospitals or health care; my father was a physical therapist so being around providers was part of my upbringing.
However, becoming a health care provider was not something I desired to pursue. Through my various experiences I did determine that I needed to find a career where I felt that I was doing something good. I always had a passion for children and I was always driven to vote as I believe we are so fortunate in this country to have this right.
Blank Children’s Hospital has given me the opportunity to combine both of these values I hold and contribute to the community in a way that I never imagined. Making a difference and helping people comes in packages of many shapes and sizes if you look at it the right way. I will admit that working in a facility that is dominated by the extraordinary people we have providing direct care led me to soul search for a time as to how I could be part of this amazing phenomenon.
When it comes to children and families, there are so many aspects that impact their healthy development. At Blank Children’s Hospital, I am fortunate to be part of many efforts that can make a difference sometimes in small ways and sometimes in large ways. Injury prevention efforts like child safety seat and sexual abuse prevention education, supporting pediatric education and supplies for professionals and teaching and encouraging people to advocate for children – each of these has the potential to change a life.
I am also privileged to get to work on policy and funding issues that affect children and families. The difference one person can make in this arena is incredible and I have been able to witness it and be part of it several times. Working with passionate people all across the state to pass laws that potentially change the course of a young person’s life is definitely making a difference. I have worked with families who have experienced tragedy so deep that I can’t imagine and to be able to help and support them in their efforts to do whatever possible to make sure their experience doesn’t befall another family is an honor.
These opportunities to make a difference are all around me. Yes, some of the work I do is at a distance, but I find satisfaction in knowing that for many, if I do not do my job, they can’t do theirs as well, whether it is helping with grant funding for a prevention program, educating a legislator about an important issue or helping a family or provider advocate.
Additionally by working hard to promote a culture where the people I work with know that family comes first and where we try to remember that we work to live rather than live to work, this too is making a difference. We all have a part to play every day, big or small but all important.