Elizabeth Glazier, MD/MPH, WellMed Chief of Supportive Care
Editor’s note: Dr. Elizabeth Glazier was among a selection of women leaders across Optum care delivery organizations, including WellMed, asked to share their experiences in recognition of Women’s History Month.
What motivates you to do the work you do?
At the end of the day, it is all about our patients and their families. It brings me great joy to think about each patient as a member of my family and ensure our teams are providing the kind of care I would want for my mom or dad.
What is a key lesson you’ve learned in life and how has it helped shape who you’ve become?
One thing I learned in taking care of sick, elderly patients is often at the time of death there can be conflict. However, those who die a peaceful death are those who have no regrets.
One of my dearest patients, prior to her death told me, “I have said everything I need to say and done everything I need to do, and now I am ready.” With this in mind, I have found it is important to take chances, it is important to say what you can say today and to not put off for tomorrow what can and should be done today. I am still learning this lesson every day.
What is your best career advice?
If you see something that needs to be improved upon, don’t be afraid to think of a solution, speak up and try to make a change. Don’t be comfortable with the status quo.
What led you to focus on geriatrics and palliative care, and why are you passionate about providing care to patients in the home?
When I was in high school, my grandmother moved in with us. She was in her 90s and quite frail and had difficulty getting around. She would go to doctors often armed with a litany of complaints and instead of listening to her, the providers would quickly prescribe a new medication or order another test. I knew then there needed to be a better way to provide care for this needy population. I learned from her about the power of listening and how valuable a patient’s story can be to help in both diagnosis and treatment.
Bringing the care to the patient allows the provider to quickly understand how the patient lives and how to best treat the patient in the truest context. Home visits are the gold standard in patient-centered care and I wish my grandmother could have been a part of our program during her lifetime.
You pioneered a new palliative care program at WellMed in 2013 and it has become a model for patient-centered care. What advice do you have for others who are launching new initiatives or programs, particularly as it relates to navigating any challenges along the way?
In 2013, WellMed took a chance and hired me to devise a new way to care for the sickest of the sick. At the time, community palliative care and home-based medicine was not commonplace. We have had many challenges to overcome, but gaining the support of our leadership has been invaluable.
One success we had along the way was to align with our PCP network and to ensure we are offering the best-in-class service to our patients and our PCPs. This is critical to gain traction for program expansion. Once the patients, their families and the PCPs understand the value of your program, growth is inevitable.