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Lynna Chandra – The Way We’ve Been Taught to See Our Work is No Longer Applicable to the Way that Our Lives are Being Led

Founder of home-care facility Rachel House discusses need for change in health care

Lynna Chandra speaking during the Salzburg Global session, Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals

Oscar Tollast | 05.01.2018

When details first emerged of the Salzburg Global session, Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals, Lynna Chandra, the founder of Rachel House, sensed a new opportunity. “When this topic came up,” Chandra says, “I actually wrote to John [Lotherington] and said, I think I’d like to learn from this.”

Chandra, who describes herself as a problem-solver, was looking to explore why people were still unable to access care in different parts of the world. The topic of building healthier communities was brought up in the previous Salzburg Global session she attended in December 2016: Rethinking Care Toward the End of Life. This session is where Chandra began looking at the role of the health system.

Despite the building of new hospitals and improvements made to health care facilities, Chandra suggests a disconnect remains. She says, “We still see the silent group of the people with chronic disease staying at home and the poor not being able to access the care.”

Between 2006 and 2016, Chandra helped pioneer pediatric palliative care services in Indonesia. Rachel House has provided palliative care to more than 2,600 children and their families and training to more than 6,000 medical professionals and community members.

Chandra is concerned the money spent on health care around the world isn’t being invested wisely. She says, “We continue to not give people what they need, and often give more than what people really want.” Chandra says conversations with fellow participants at Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals, have confirmed to her that more frontline staff are needed. This change would lead to more people on the ground understanding people’s needs, not only the things that can be quantified and measured but the subjective factors in each scenario.

“I think Salzburg Global Seminar has so successfully put together doctors who really care, doctors who believe that there has got to be a better ear on the ground to really connect with people one on one in order for us to deliver what the sustainable development goals are, really understanding what would actually make people have better quality of life, and the social determinants of health.”

During the session, Chandra took part in a panel discussion on the smart utilization of technology in health care. She questioned how to build bridges between technological experts and participants in the room who were “ready to create change, ready to disrupt the way we think, and challenge the status quo of the hospital.”

Chandra believes there are blocks in the system that prevent healthier communities emerging. She highlights high profile meetings concerning environmental matters which fail to include Ministers of Health in discussions. She says, “The way we have been taught to see our work is no longer applicable to the way that our lives are being led.”

In September 2016, Chandra stood down from Rachel House and switched her attention to a new project. She has dedicated the past 12 months to “really learn” and has continued to serve on the boards of Assisi Hospice, the International Children’s Palliative Care Network, and Bamboo Capital Management.

Chandra doesn’t have a fixed idea as to what her next chapter will look like, but she knows “inherently and instinctively that it has to be something to do with community care, it has something to do with primary care, [and] it has something to do with bringing care closer to the people and have a better understanding of the people.”

Chandra says she has “learned so much” at the session and will take away the possibility of working with several of her fellow participants in the near future. She congratulated Salzburg Global for bringing together people with great potential to create change and disrupt the status quo.

When asked what inspires her to do the work she does, Chandra draws in a deep breath before replying, “I think to serve.” She adds, “It frustrates me to see that where there is so much abundance, there is so much possibility around, and yet the poorest and the people without a voice continue to be under-served, continue to go without. Fathers continue to see their children die without the ability to help them. Mothers continue to see their children suffer in pain in the final days of their lives, and yet there is no help. Even in a country where we have so much, that population continues to suffer. I think it is… I can’t believe we don’t have a solution. I’m just impatient, I guess, I don’t know."

The session, Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century. This year’s session is held in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGShealth on Twitter and Instagram.


Oscar Tollast