By Jennifer Cook
Change is hard. It can be frightening, horrifying even, but it can also be a relief; a chance to escape to something new, better, exciting and hopeful. Whatever the adjectives you may use for the change you experience in life, it is still a process to… well, process it. And that processing is not easy. It takes time. It takes energy and effort. And there are stages.
All of this is appropriate to what we have all experienced in the last 18 months. It is also completely applicable to the process Western Health Collective and specifically myself, as Director, have been through in the last 9 months.
When I discovered that we would no longer be able to remain in our WeFo location, the feeling of horror, grief and disbelief was palpable. There are many reasons I wanted to stay, the most powerful being that this is my community – I live here, and I know that this service which sees 700 patients a month, is needed in my community. To be forced to remove it was heart-breaking and we did everything we could in the last 9 months to stay local. Of the various options and properties, we saw there was everything from inspirational to eyebrow raising (for dubious reasons). However, the sheer economics of moving a medical clinic are enough to make any business owner baulk, especially after 18 months of COVID impacting the business spreadsheet.
When the change we strove to make, seemed completely out of reach, we were in turn reached out to, unexpectedly and thankfully, and thus we made the move to Williamstown. True, it is not the change we sought – it is further from our initial home radius than we liked (we did not want clients to travel that far), and we also felt it was already a well serviced area and likely did not need us in it. However, with this change has come the unexpected and oh so welcome benefits of kind, generous and thoughtful landlords, a stunning building with soul, grounding, prestige and great architecture, and a welcoming and lovely community. We have also gained sunshine in all rooms and more space than before which sounds little but in fact, the extra square metres have allowed our brains and thoughts to expand to encompass bigger thoughts and plans. There is more breathing space in which to de-stress, relax and be hopeful and creative.
This change has been hard, heart-breaking, dare I say a little soul destroying, frustrating, difficult and very unwelcome. But that is in the past. Now, 2 weeks into the new location I am starting to feel that this change, though slightly bone breaking, is what we needed, to be free of the difficulties of the last 5 years; to give us room for more development, to move more into our dreams of changing how chronic health conditions and patients are treated, for more resources, greater plans and greater vision. I don’t want to go back to normal, I want a new improved, more exciting future. So, I am relieved and starting to become hopeful and excited.
Change is hard, whether you are pleased about the change or not, but I suspect this bone weary exhaustion I am currently feeling will give way to buoyant, vibrant, enthusiastic energy. After the last 18 months, I think we can all embrace that kind of change.
Jennifer Cook is Director of Western Health Collective.