Polly Arango, a nationally known advocate for children, died on Saturday, June 26. In total, I only spent a few minutes with Polly at last year's IHI Annual Forum (picture here), but she made an immediate and wonderful impression.
After the conference, I was curious. Who was this person? It was then that I learned of her extensive accomplishments and her fine reputation. These are summarized in this obituary in the Albuquerque Journal. Among other things, she founded Family Voices, which aims to achieve family-centered care for all children and youth with special health care needs and/or disabilities.
Learning of her untimely death in a freak one-car accident in Alamosa, Colorado, I felt a blow-to-the-midsection loss. Others shared that view.
One of these people is Dale Ann Micalizzi, whom I have come to know via social media and in person. Her blog, here, describes her work in memory of her son, Justin, to improve medical quality and safety. Dale and Polly also connected right away at the IHI Forum, and Dale gave Polly a small pin in commemoration of that friendship. With Dale's permission, here is the text of Polly's thank-you note and the final poignant words in her own writing:
Thank you for the beautiful pin. I love angels and hearts. My brother Nick who died of a brain tumor in 2001 once gave me a beautiful angel pin to honor my work with Family Voices, an organization he loved. And the Family Voices logo is a heart -- so your pin is perfect. Thank you!
I thank you also for inviting me into your world of tragedy and compassion. Your work in safety and transparency, built upon your loss of Justin, is just incredibly inspiring -- to me and the audiences you touch, as you did in Orlando at the IHI forum. You've said such presentations are still hard for you -- even more reason for me to respect and honor you.