Wendy Nickel

September 8, 2023

In the middle of Philadelphia sits an oasis of nature and beauty, rivaling some of the more exotic and scenic national parks in the United States. HCIF had the unique opportunity to spend the day at the Discovery Center for our staff retreat in July.  In addition to being able to utilize a beautiful public space to promote creative thinking and inspiration, we were heartened by the giggling campers who were in the room next door to us. We even had the chance to enjoy a nature walk after a long day of exercising different parts of our brains than we usually do in our day-to-day work. We left the retreat exhausted, but inspired and ready to put our ideas and thinking into action.

According to its website, the Discovery Center provides education and adventure programs that “inspire self-discovery, foster personal achievement, and build community across Philadelphia”. It struck me that this is very similar to what we hope to achieve through our programming  to improve health care. Ultimately, our work promotes opportunities for individuals and communities to achieve optimal health and well-being through collaboration and shared learning. It was just fortuitous that our mission found a kindred spirit in the Discovery Center. 

During the retreat, the first in many years, we had the opportunity to connect in person and reflect on our accomplishments over the past several years, including our anti-racism work, a new strategic roadmap, and organizational work to improve our exposure and social media presence. Related to this, we had a chance to think about our identity as we begin designing a new website (coming soon). We celebrated the launch of several successful programs, including the Health Equity Data Strategy Collaborative; the 2022 Regional Community Health Needs Assessment; PENNJ-SOS, an opioid stewardship program engaging clinicians and patients; and hosted multiple summits addressing gun violence in the hospital setting, health literacy, and health equity. We also enjoyed a fun Team Bingo game – if you haven’t done this before, it’s a great ice breaker for teams or new partners. 

We also had the opportunity to think about our current healthcare environment and how HCIF can support recent shifts, such as addressing social needs and risks to achieve optimal health. Our retreat highlighted how HCIF is poised to meet the needs of both our community and health care partners to facilitate achievements in health equity. We left the day with a number of to-dos, takeaways, and next steps to move towards our long-term vision as the go-to source for supporting work to improve health.

We started the day with an overcast sky overlooking the lovely Discovery Center lake and left with a bright shining sun, much akin to the brightness and energy with which we left the retreat.