Amy Pasini: GIS in Health Pioneer

By Joe Francica

Amy Kathleen Pasini
Manager GIS and Injury Prevention

1. WHAT IS YOUR POSITION IN YOUR COMPANY?

My position is Manager of GIS and Injury Prevention at Baystate Health System (BHS).Baystate Health System is non -profit hospital integrated delivery system serving Western New England.This system includes an academic medical center and two community based hospitals, outpatient facilities, home care / hospice and numerous support services.BHS is the largest regional employer in Western Massachusetts and has been named as one of the nations leading top 50 integrated healthcare networks by SMG Marketing group.

I direct the administrative and system-wide operations of GIS and the Injury Prevention Programs.Some of my responsibilities also include providing leadership and direction with our national, state, and local partnerships and to insure growth and development in the areas of research, clinical applications, community development, education training and policy advocacy.Other areas of accountabilities are attending to legal and contractual arrangements, financial management and funding procurement.

2. WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?

I have BS in Education from Springfield College and am completing my Masters in Public Administration.I consider my "on the job" experiences, mentors, and ongoing training's invaluable to my career along the way.

3. HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE PROGRAM AT BAYSTATE?

There was no GIS Program at BHS! This was truly an organic development over the past 6 years.Before becoming Manager, I coordinated through the BHS trauma services, all injury prevention initiatives.BHS is a Level 1 trauma center and implements prevention efforts to identify the patterns, frequency, and risk for injury in the community.I became aware of GIS over 5 years ago and began to investigate how to integrate it's use into the work that I was involved in, and it took off from there.The scope of implementing GIS into the areas of health and prevention grew as we demonstrated that it can vastly improve and change how healthcare can be approached (strategic planning, disease /injury surveillance, quality assurance /risk management, research, delivery of services, marketing et.).I was fortunate that BHS Senior Management supported our plans years ago- not without some growth pains- to create a visionary approach -when no other healthcare system (that we were aware of ) were doing what we were doing.We are striving to make the GIS Program BHS's first Academic Center of Excellence.This is a comprehensive approach to utilizing GIS in all areas of healthcare and research.I view our program as a pioneer in the area of healthcare and GIS.I am also extremely fortunate to be part of a talented team who coordinate projects and efforts with high levels of dedication that have brought us many successes.

4. WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY OR WORK LOOK LIKE?

Our team says that I am the one who always sees - the "big picture".I enjoy collaborating with our established partners to devise new ways to use GIS.I devote a large part of my time to discussing strategies, working on projects and managing team activities, educating others in healthcare about GIS, and of course attending meetings.I also try to schedule time to keep up to date with the GIS industry -new research components, and investigating funding opportunities.I also think it's critical in a work environment to create a sense of purpose, excitement and fun and to infuse positive energy- so, often times I am the "rah rah" team leader - especially when the workload gets heavy.I also enjoy sitting on a variety of community boards that represent education health and violence prevention in our region.

We have been asked to present our work to a variety of federal agencies and community groups across the country, so lately we have been doing a lot of travelling as well.

5. WHAT INVOLVEMENT DO YOU HAVE TO WITH OTHER AREAS OF PUBLIC HEATLTH AND HOW HAS GIS HELPED FACILITATE AND UNERSTANDING OF PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEMS?

A simple approach to public health incorporates surveillance, intervention, and evaluation and of course, GIS plays an important role in all of these components.I find that GIS brings together public health entities to enhance the sharing of information and data so to solve problems and analyze the effectiveness of intervention and educational strategies that are implemented.Here in our region, we are sharing data in a GIS environment among many disciplines; criminal justice, social service organizations, community liaisons, faith-based organizations, and healthcare entitles.That is the beauty of GIS - it brings people together to solve problems!

6. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT "NEXT THING" THAT WILL HAPPEN IN GIS IN PUBLIC HEALTH"?

After September 11th, it has become even more critical to have healthcare systems prepared to work on a regional approach to address preparedness, emergency services and public health crisis's.There will be a role and function for GIS at both the local, regional and national level to address the extent that medical preparedness plans need to be coordinated to respond to these needs.We hope that our work using GIS in our large healthcare delivery service can identify what those needs will be to and perhaps help in the plans and protocols.

7. WHAT IS THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?

No doubt, being a proud mother of 3 fantastic children and wife of a devoted husband.Career wise, balancing home and work- always a challenge and I must say that despite many obstacles I try to never loosing sight of creating new ways of which to integrate GIS in healthcare- and thus far we've been successful!

8. BEFORE YOU CAME TO GIS, WHAT DID YOU THINK YOUR CAREER WOULD BE?

I am a former alpine ski racer and I must say that I imagined that I would integrate or create a career that would involve my passion for skiing.I ventured into Pre- Med, but was drawn to the areas of community and pubic health education.I was able to combine a Pre-Med major with Health Education- and working at a large healthcare organization this has come to be helpful! I believe in making/creating opportunities and service to others.I think that is why I have enjoyed creating a career in health/GIS so much because my hope is that the work that we do will hopefully effect the care and delivery of health to others.

9. WOULD YOU RECOMMEND GIS TO OTHER WOMEN?

Absolutely! I can say that it has created for me - an exciting career! I have a 7 year old daughter who thinks GIS is "cool".When she describes what I do- sometimes she says, "Mom makes maps" or "Mom helps people".We all know that GIS is more than map making- and it has such enormous potential to improve the way we live, work, understand and enjoy life.I would say that particularly for women, it can bridge many types of careers and professions that have not have existed before.

10. WHY IS GIS AN EXCITING INDUSTRY IN WHICH TO PARTCIPATE?

GIS can cross many disciplines! It is always improving and changing- and those professionals who venture into GIS come from such a wide range of experiences- many of whom- like me- never imagined that they could incorporate a career utilizing it! I am constantly amazed at how far GIS can allow for disciplines, Many new entities are now taking strides to utilize GIS in a wide variety of organizational structures- like healthcare!


Published Wednesday, April 17th, 2002

Written by Joe Francica



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