By Thomas H. 

JCAH was excited to host Dr. Rida Fatima, who is part of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia’s professional exchange program. In this program, “emerging leaders” from around the world visit Philadelphia each year to learn from local businesses and organizations and share their experiences. Dr. Fatima is from Karachi, Pakistan, where she works in the civil service. She helps local government work with regional and national authorities and oversees certain programs and services. She also writes reports that help shape policies and improve processes. Dr. Fatima is very interested in education and health. At JCAH, Nurse Kim St. Peter hosted her, arranged meetings with the JCAH team, and showed her the training provided to caregivers. Dr. Fatima kindly shared her experiences with us.

What influenced your decision to spend your time with JEVS Care at Home? 

Actually, the program selected JEVS Care at Home for me. This was the first time I had applied for the program, and, thankfully, I was selected. I am a doctor; I am an Assistant Director in my work. I have my masters, and I am doing another master’s in public health. So, based on these things the program chose JEVS Care at Home, because it would be relatable. 

Tell us a bit about your work.  

Back in Pakistan. I am currently working in the civil service. I am Assistant Director in local government in Karachi, where I am supervising Union Committees, which are the basic unit of any local government. I currently supervise 43 Union Committees in the East District of Karachi. 

I coordinate communication and collaboration between the union committees, other government authorities, and elected officials. Sometimes I am asked to supervise, to see if the union committees are operating as they should. We also have what are called TMCs, Town Municipal Corporations. They can collect taxes for example. I don’t directly supervise TMCs, but my superiors can assign me tasks that are related to them.  Just before coming to the US, for example, I completed a taxation proposal based on a visit to 5 TMCs. The population served by a TMC might be 50,000 or sometimes 80,000, or more. I looked at how taxes are collected, listened to ideas for improving tax collection, and incorporated the TMCs’s suggestions into a proposal I submitted to my superiors.  

How does your work relate to public health?  

Broadly speaking there are issues that are related to public health. For instance, a recent task was to inspect some schools and dispensaries. What is the condition? What is the enrollment? Is there clean drinking water? Are they planning any immunizations? How many children or newborn babies are coming? So, these are some things that I might do that are related to public health. We are trying our best so that we can make improvements.

You’ve had a chance during your time with us to learn about home care and how home care is provided. Are things similar or different in Pakistan? 

Our two societies are totally different. A lot of people in Pakistan who are aging are aging in a family home. That is generally the case in Karachi. As someone ages they are likely to live with a daughter or son, or granddaughter or grandson and receive support through the family. 

This kind of support is very strong in Karachi and in the in whole of Pakistan. But there are certain exceptions, for example, if a person has no children and they are unable to take care of themselves, then there are homes for the aged. What JEVS Care at Home does is not common in Pakistan. 

Tell me about some of the things you’ve learned since you’ve been here. 

I have learned so many things. The first thing is that the working environment is not so formal here. And that is a good thing. I was very relaxed, and people are people are welcoming and receptive. Whenever I asked for help, people have been more than willing. More specifically, I met with Tony [Marinello], and he showed me some basics of financial management. Earlier I met with Ryan Loesser [VP of Home Care]. And he is exceptional in data analytics. I love the software you are using. I was very impressed that you can enter data and it immediately becomes a graph.  

I have learned much about communication in an office such as yours, and also how you must coordinate with private companies. This is very different from Pakistan.  

Also, I have spent much of my time with Nurse Kim [St. Peter], and I told her that I was interested in learning CPR. I am a doctor, but I have not learned this yet in my training, so Nurse Kim has arranged to teach me.

I have learned so much. The environment [of the JCAH office] is very new for me. I have been very impressed by how well organized you are and how smoothly things operate as you serve more than 800 clients. Also, I’m impressed how you prioritize employee well-being. Oh, and  I have also learned how to make coffee with the Keurig! Your kitchen is so good. I liked it very much! [Laughs]  

How will you use the things that you’ve learned here at JCAH in your work back home? 

My experience has confirmed my interest in education and health. I received some great advice about communication and collaboration, and I have seen how different software can make some tasks so much easier. I have learned many things here that will help me improve my personal and professional skills. 

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