With a kind smile and keen wit, Wendy Brzezny is no stranger to healthcare or whole person care. A longtime clinical nurse and public health employee, Wendy knows that Whole Person Care is critical to the healthcare transformation efforts happening across the North Central Region. A longtime resident of Grant County, Wendy joins the NCACH team in the newly created Whole Person Care Collaborative Manager position.
The role’s primary function will be to oversee and coordinate the provider transformation efforts in the North Central Region with a shared vision of whole person care. Wendy will be working closely with the Whole Person Care Collaborative Learning Community’s 17 provider organizations, as well as the broad community of WPCC members, and the WPCC Workgroup.
Wendy Brzezny, Whole Person Care Collaborative Manager
Tell us a little about your background. Specifically, your experience in healthcare and/or in North Central Washington. What were you doing before you joined NCACH?
I have been a nurse since 2007 when I began my career as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) (known as LPN in Washington State) at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston Texas. I initially worked in the allergy/immunology clinic before transferring to the inpatient cardiology unit. I later took a job at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, working as a clinic nurse and outpatient procedure nurse.
After moving to Washington State in 2001, I returned to school to become a Registered Nurse (RN). I finished my Associates Degree in Nursing and decided to get my BSN. During this time period I was able to complete my clinical in public health. It was at this time I realized how much I enjoyed this aspect of nursing. I started with the Grant County Health District in 2006. During my 12 years there I wore many hats, including case management for Children with Special Health Care Needs, Oral Health Coordinator, Healthy Communities Consultant, Youth Tobacco Prevention Coordinator/regional tobacco contract lead, and Childhood Obesity Prevention Coordinator.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family exploring the outdoors and traveling. In my quiet time in the evenings, I also enjoy hand embroidery and stitching.
What does whole person care mean to you? How can the NCACH region (especially the non-clinical community) contribute to whole person care?
Whole person care is the ability for an individual to achieve overall wellness of body, mind and spirit. Healthcare tends to be more reactive in its response to a patient’s physical needs. We need to get away from our tunnel vision view of an individual and begin to recognize that our health and wellbeing are being influenced not only from our genetics and individual behaviors, but also social and environmental factors and the healthcare system.
You were in Public Health before joining NCACH – what are the intersections between Public Health and whole person care? Where do you see Public Health supporting the WPCC?
Public Health focuses on entire populations vs individuals. Individuals make lasting changes 1) when they are forced to because laws or policies change, 2) when the system around them changes, forcing them to change the way they do things or 3) when the environment around them changes. It’s difficult to make changes when the external environment is still the same. Many people have been successful at making the changes they desired, but I would venture to say more have tried and failed because their environment or systems around them fail to support them. The whole person care model has taken into account how we are currently administering healthcare and move beyond our silos – “physical health,” “mental health,” “social health” and “substance misuse,” – and integrate it into one system.
What are you most excited about as you take on the role of WPCC Manager?
As a public health nurse for 12 years, working upstream to improve health outcomes has always been appealing. The work taken on by the Whole Person Care Collaborative is timely in healthcare reform. As the WPCC manager, I am most excited for the many different collaborative relationships that will be built as we reform care in North Central Washington. This work is very ambitious, yet very timely and much needed if we want to improve care while reducing costs and achieve the Triple Aim.
The Triple Aim is a framework for optimizing health system performance. The Triple Aim goals are:
1) Improve the patient experience of care
2) Improve population health, and
3) Reduce the per capita cost of health care
Thank you and welcome to the team! We are so excited to have you with us, and know that our WPCC Providers are looking forward to working with you.
Wendy Brzezny is the Whole Person Care Collaborative Manager for the North Central Accountable Communities of Health. Over the past 12 years, Wendy has served in public health working upstream to improve health outcomes through primary prevention. After completing her vocational degree in nursing in 1996 and practicing for 5 ½ years before returning to achieve her RN and ultimately achieving her Bachelor (2006) and Master’s degrees (2011) in nursing from Washington State University. Wendy lived and worked in Houston and Galveston, Texas before relocating to rural Washington in 2001 with her husband and two children, Jordan and Nikola. In her spare time, Wendy enjoys spending time with her family in the outdoors and traveling.