Thinking Creatively to Provide Sustenance

Written by Katherine Higgins

Katherine Higgins smiling at camera

As a very part-time contract worker in a local community hospital, I was surprised when I walked into the hospital last week and discovered a new wall had gone up blocking half of the hospital lobby. It turns out that “extra” lobby space had been partitioned off to make room for 12 additional ED beds. Having been present over the summer for the rising COVID hospitalization rates, the growing stress on staff and resources, and the regular ED diversions, this new wall was not altogether surprising. But it was nevertheless a visual jolt. It was a reminder of the gravity of the current situation, and of the resourcefulness and ingenuity that has marked much of the last year and a half.

And just as hospitals are planning and changing course and moving walls and caring for the communities they serve, so are we in ACPE.

This year, we received record budget requests from Communities of Practice (CoPs). New CoPs have formed and are excited to come together in person to begin to address the burning questions of their work together. Longstanding communities and networks are anticipating a return to in-person gatherings for learning and support. And folks who had just a couple of years of life together as a CoP before the pandemic hit, have continued to bring their energy and imagination to the CoP enterprise.

In my Christian tradition, during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “Where your treasure is, there will be your heart.” In the budgeting process, it seems a reasonable extrapolation to say that “where your heart is, there will you seek to invest your resources.” Our heart is in the relationships that sustain us.

And in the context of these record requests, the board made the difficult and wise decision to suspend travel and in-person meetings through June of 2022. Given then realities of this COVID wave and the uncertainty that infuses all event planning, it did not seem prudent to continue to plan and spend as if there weren’t a real and present threat of cancellation.

And so, we, too, have gone back to the drawing board, thinking creatively about the heart and treasure and limitations. We, too, are building walls, expanding care, and thinking creatively to provide sustenance along the journey.

Katherine Higgins is the Director of Communities of Practice. She may be contacted at