By Jerry Battista, MBA, Software Engineer
I have been with TeamHealth for almost twenty years, and I have worked in software development since the late 1980s. I am fortunate for these opportunities. In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I want to share about my journey and my experience in the workforce.
In December of 1980, just a few days before Christmas, a gunshot wound to my spine while being robbed in Long Beach, California, gave new life to the term “life changing.” Losing the use of my lower extremities, I now must use a wheelchair. However, many do not survive such encounters, so I am thankful, and I work hard to take advantage of the gift of life, no matter what.
The early days after my injury were full of adjustment and retrospection. In my mind, I was afraid the only thing anyone would see when they looked at me would be the WHEELCHAIR!
It took fortitude to work at obtaining the best result possible for my circumstances. Over time, things did become easier. The next large obstacle was returning to work. As someone who became a paraplegic in young adulthood, it was an important adjustment for me. A job was a large part of my life plan and self-image.
One desires to have a purpose and objectives in life. A job is important for many people to achieve that goal.
Disability Employment Awareness
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 helped to change the environment of individuals with some form of disability in seeking employment. It made it more acceptable. It allowed the individuals making hiring decisions to see beyond the obvious and dig deeper into the person and what that person could accomplish.
Nothing is perfect, but anything that heightens awareness of an issue and shows positive results, as the ADA did, is a step in the right direction. There are still many barriers, but there are less than years ago.
My Career at TeamHealth
When I started at TeamHealth, I worked as a manager at AccessNurse. We replaced the documentation system, brought the telephone system in-house, improved operations and made the system more user-friendly. We reduced the number of service tickets from one of the highest in the company to very few tickets generated. After these accomplishments, I moved to the Health Care Financial Services team, where I turned my focus to improving the processing of patients’ charts.
TeamHealth has always made me feel welcome and tried to provide any accommodation necessary for my situation. I’ve traveled to Arizona and Texas for work, and I always was able to fly and travel as necessary. One interesting fact is that the team bought an apparatus with us that would allow me to evacuate down stairwells in case of an emergency.
Advancing Diversity in the Workplace
Throughout the years, I have also really enjoyed serving on the TeamHealth Enterprise Information Technology Diversity Council. Our department is a reflection of the diverse world. We seek out diverse perspectives so inclusive choices can be made. One way we foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion is through our Diversity Fair. I’m pictured below hosting different booths at the TeamHealth EIT Diversity Fair.
There is never any stigma at TeamHealth. I’m fortunate that in my career, post disability, the actual disability has had very little effect on the positions I’ve held. Individuals I’ve worked with are very respectful and work is really no different than for any other person, and that is the way it should be. Our differences should not be inhibiting factors, only agents to push us to make improvements.
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