Anna Blair, VP Business Relations & Development
Admin, Santa Rosa
Can you tell me a little bit about the Summit/CareConnect acquisition?
Until I got into this position, I never understood how much emotion, finesse, listening and understanding the acquisition process requires. It is a very “alive” process. The Summit/CareConnect acquisition took 20 months from start to finish. It was a dance. Go away for a while and then come back, go away, come back. What always drew us back to the table were the people. These are people who chose to put bases where other companies didn’t. They committed to communities that needed service. That did it for us. The process finally came to fruition, and it holds a very near and dear place in our hearts.
What happens next?
Sean Russell’s direction to the leadership team was clear: make sure that the first 30 to 60 days is devoted to listening. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. So we have completely gone into this focused on listening.
I can’t imagine going through this with better people. We all learned a lot being on the other side of an acquisition three years ago. We remember how we felt during the process, which makes it easier to put ourselves in Summit’s shoes. People tend to think of corporate acquisition as cold and heartless, but it can be quite the opposite. I’ve observed our leadership’s capacity to manage everything—all the moving parts—and while we’ve changed some things that were identified as needing to be changed, we haven’t approached it the way most people might assume a corporate takeover happens.
How are Summit and CareConnect structured?
It’s almost like three different companies. There are Summit bases in Nevada and Montana. The Colorado service, known as Southern Colorado CareConnect, was not even launched when the deal went through. We were very fortunate to have the initial group for CareConnect come through the Academy at the beginning of June. They are a great group that loves serving communities that have been underserved. Their priorities are a tieback to Dr. McDonald.
How would you summarize your job these days?
My job is to educate the transport service consumer. If I do my job and teach the consumers to ask all the right questions, I feel they’ll end up choosing us. What’s important is to always serve the mission, to always work toward a positive outcome. That applies all the time, even when things aren’t going the way you intended. I call those “catastro-tunities,” when you take something bad and get something good out of it.
How long have you been with REACH?
My nine year anniversary was in May. I love my job more every day. Most people don’t get up in the morning excited about work — I do. It’s all about supporting the team and, therefore, the mission.
On the path that led to where you are today, what were your top three supportive and/or motivational influences? They can be people, institutions, life events, anything.
- Volunteer fire service
- My kids. They’ve softened me up. They were the influence in my life that first made me realize it isn’t about me.
How do you feel about acknowledgment and appreciation, specifically in the workplace? What role should they play? How should they be used?
In my utopia, when we say thank you to someone, it’s very personal. Appreciation is most meaningful when it is unique and specific to the person receiving it. At REACH, we try to hit the broadest swath in the best way possible, and we change it up, but we know there’s no “one size fits all.”
This year, as senior leadership went through the award nominations, I was beyond humbled. Trying to select the winners from the amazing submissions was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I mean it; it was so hard.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job right now?
Finding a way to continually put the right care and attention around each project is my biggest challenge.
What do you appreciate most about your coworkers?
Their tolerance for my lack of a filter! I appreciate that they are thick skinned and that they give me the opportunity to salvage myself—I am who I am and they know it. But they’re not afraid to tell me when I’m out of line.
What do you consider your leading contribution to the REACH mission of “always do what is right for the patient”?
I used to be very black and white, but as I’ve gotten older—and this especially applies to the Business Relations side—I realize there’s a lot of gray. So I’ve changed in that way, but otherwise I’m still very consistent. What always directs me is, “In every situation do what is right for the patient, customer, employee.”