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Circle of Care Interview
With Kisha Miller and Lisa Wakeman

NewSplash recently had the opportunity to speak with Kisha Miller and Lisa Wakeman from Circle of Care (cocteam.org) about how the company came into being, its role in the OR and sterile processing fields, what the future holds for Circle of Care, and more. Circle of Care is putting on Perioperative Symposium: Collaborative Approach to Reducing HAIs in Indianapolis, Indiana, on February 23. Click here for more details and to register for the event.

NewSplash: What is your background?
Kisha Miller: 
I was a surgical technologist at one of the largest hospital systems in Houston. I actually was hired to join the CV Open Heart team before I finished my rotation and graduated from the program. I worked in the OR for years before transitioning into the surgical instrument and medical device repair sales, where I went from a field service rep to regional vice president in about two years. I conducted numerous educational in-services for the OR and sterile processing departments, and was active volunteering and participating in meetings and conferences in all of the local chapters in my area. I also worked as national clinical educator for Orthopedic Surgical Instrument company. I’ve obtained my master’s degree in healthcare administration.

Lisa Wakeman: I’ve been in sterile processing for about 10 years and been in leadership roles for the past five years. In that time I earned a master’s degree and worked on multiple projects. 

N: How did Circle of Care begin? What was the inspiration for bringing Circle of Care into existence?
The inspiration for Circle of Care began years ago before I ever thought to officially launch the company. It came from my experience of working in an OR where they eat their young so, in essence, CoC was born out of necessity.

There was a tremendous amount of conflict and lack of harmony in the OR due to poor communication, no trust, no support, and a misunderstanding surrounding each other’s true roles, daily duties, and responsibilities. There was a silo mentality with no sense of being part of a team.

I repeatedly witnessed each discipline in perioperative services simply reduce each other’s role to bullet points on a page instead of taking the time to understand the full scope and contribution that each discipline brings to the table.

It was at that point I inserted myself in other departments to open the lines of communication and invite my colleagues to share their expertise and perspectives so we could collaborate, properly plan, support, and assist each other to ensure we deliver patient-centered care. We created an environment where we shared mutual trust, support, and respect for each other and didn’t point fingers. As I witnessed this same behavior in other facilities during my travels as an industry representative, I used the same approach to assist their perioperative team to break down the silos and overcome their lack communication and teamwork issues. I realized then there was a tremendous need for our programs on a larger scale.

Our conference acts as a forum for healthcare workers from various disciplines to share ideas and collaborate in new ways that will be brought back to their respective facilities and result in better patient outcomes. We have a vision to improve team-based care, healthcare system performance, and overall patient care by closing the gap in healthcare delivery and translating the best science and knowledge into effective professional training and development.

N: How did you meet and what made you decide to work together?
We actually met through LinkedIn. I updated my LinkedIn profile to reflect the launch of the company as well as announce the success of Circle of Care’s 1st Interprofessional Educational Conference. Lisa reached out to me and said she was jazzed about our mission and would love to become part of the team. We immediately exchanged phone numbers and quickly realized we share a passion for optimizing great patient outcomes. Circle of Care is so lucky to have such a passionate patient advocate on the team!

LW: I stumbled upon the organization when I saw Kisha’s posts on LinkedIn in 2013. When I read about the organization and its mission, I felt compelled to reach out and express appreciation for her efforts. From there we started to discuss common goals and discovered that our personal values had a shared vision. From there we started to collaborate on projects to make a difference. I have a close connection with Kisha and appreciate that I have someone to work with who is just as passionate about infection control and advocating for patient safety as I am.

N: What motivates you?
I’m determined to provide a platform to promote the importance of interprofessional continuing education and a collaborative learning environment for members of the perioperative team to share their expertise and perspective. We can’t have these discussions when we have a patient on the table or when we are trying to wrap up one case and move on to the next to get through our caseload.

We also won’t be able to accomplish this if we continue to have siloed educational experiences. I’m determined to bust down the silos that exist among perioperative team members through continuously hosting collaborative educational conferences on a regional and local level with industry organizations such as AHE, IAHCSMM, AORN, APIC, and AST.

Together we will continue exploring and examining the best practices pertaining to the prevention of healthcare acquired infections (HAIs).

LW: HAIs are preventable and I am motivated by influencing positive change on a large scale, improving processes overall, and making a difference in the world. I am driven to be a catalyst that inspires a call to action to save lives! I also love research and developing people so these strengths tie nicely together, especially when partnered with the power of like-minded individuals who are just as driven to be agents of change.

N: What is next for Circle of Care?
We have a big project underway that I can’t share much about, but what I can say is we will be launching several e-courses this year and hosting multiple live events with other hospital systems and medical schools in 2019 in Texas and California.

LW: I am excited about the projects we are working on and how our platform will drive change through collaborative interprofessional engagement.

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