Fail, Survive, or Thrive

November 21, 2022 @ 12:00am

Good snowy morning from northern Wisconsin. The snow and slick roads this morning reminded me about one of the least favorite parts of my job-playing meteorologist. Now this is quite contradictory to my childhood years. I used to love watching the weather report by meteorologist Gary Cannalte out of the News 3 station in Madison. I was fascinated and intrigued and thought that someday I want to be a meteorologist too. So here I am, playing meteorologist-without any training. It is one of the most stressful things!

Now some of you are like what the heck is she talking about. She is a healthcare CEO, where does weather come into play? Healthfirst’s service area stretches from our northern most point, Tomahawk to the southernmost point Baraboo-and everywhere in between. There is about a 160 mile stretch between the two. And what is happening in one, is usually not happening in the other. So, a lot of time and effort goes into monitoring the weather in our 9-county region.

I monitor the weather for safety. Safety of my staff. And safety of my clients. Many of my staff travel between locations on a regular basis. I need to ensure that the weather does not create hazardous travel conditions. And when it does, I then must decide the best course of action. If there are hazardous travel conditions for my staff, there are also hazardous travel conditions for the clients. If clients are not going to travel to their appointments due to the conditions, should I send a staff member to a location knowing clients will most likely not come? But if I do not send a staff member, what happens to the client that really needs to be seen?

These are the questions and struggles that I face on a continual basis. The spring, summer, and fall months are a little easier in Wisconsin. During those months I do have to worry about inclement weather in the form of storms and tornadoes but sending someone to their designated internal location during a tornado warning is very cut and dry. Figuring out who should travel to where in the winter is not.

I check weather reports, 511 road conditions, local road reports, school closure listings, etc. Thankfully in the greater Sauk and Juneau County area I have family that I call, early in the morning, and ask for an informed road report. After gathering all of the information, I check schedules and locations people are traveling from and too. There really is not a great mathematical equation. One must compile the information they have and make the most informed decision then can. Sometimes I have been right and sometimes the sun comes out and clears everything up in an hour. But taking the safety of my staff and clients into consideration is essential.

You will notice though; my priority is safety-not lost revenues. As a non-profit when there is no margin there is no mission, a concept I fully understand. However, closing for 1 day is much more cost effective than an employee getting in an accident and having to close for weeks. That is part of the cost benefit analysis that flows through my head continually. Yes, we will lose revenue on the day I closed, but the alternative could have led to a much larger revenue loss. And frankly without staff you do not have a margin or a mission.

And this is only week 1 of living in this headspace! There are about 4.5 more months of winter meteorologist in my future.

About the author: Jessica Scharfenberg
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