Falling into place

My work for the ALS Association has finally started to come together in the last two weeks. When I first started, they let me know that if I was able to come up with a few options regarding the loan closet for them to consider, they’d be satisfied; I’m proud that I’ve been able to do more than that.

One of the issues facing the loan closet was that it was difficult to have an effective means of keeping track of the equipment. The software that the ALS Association uses to manage it is the general database it uses for patient management, which is not set up to manage inventory very well. I think that’s one of the more challenging aspects of nonprofit work – a lot of the time you have to work with what’s available rather than what would be the most effective. I was able to arrange for some code to be written for us that would allow us to run an inventory query and track how often certain kinds of equipment were being checked out, which would allow the staff to see what was used the most often, what isn’t being used as much, and what pieces of equipment haven’t been used at all within the past few years. If the staff intends to move toward paying for space, paring down the equipment in the closet will help them get the most out of their money.

I also was involved in documenting and recording the results for our patient survey that went out in our newsletter. I haven’t used Excel much since K-12 (over ten years ago now!), so this was challenging! I had to spend a while figuring out how to execute different functions and how to align the results in the spreadsheet so they made sense, but in the end, I was able to produce useful information for the chapter regarding patient feedback. I was also able to provide feedback that let them know how they might get better results from the survey they’re planning to do next year.

As for the loan closet location itself, I’ve discovered that getting a hold of decision makers at other organizations can sometimes be the biggest hurdle. While I’ve managed to have brief conversations with durable medical equipment companies that could store our equipment, it’s mainly been to arrange time to communicate further. Generally the decision makers can’t make decisions unilaterally, so there’s time allowed for them to go and discuss it with business partners – and then getting a hold of them again after that can be another challenge! I’m confident that even if I’m unable to finalize anything with them though, I’ve laid out enough groundwork for the staff to be able to do it with minimal pains once my fellowship is done at the end of this week.

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