My first trip to Vermont was an invitation to speak at the Blueprint for Health conference. I was invited a day early to meet with other presenters and leaders in government and healthcare.

I was taken with the natural beauty of Vermont, the warmth and hospitality of everyone we met, and the delicious and nutritious foods. I was amazed to walk right into the state capitol building. No, really, I just walked right in a side door and met with a state senator. No screening, no security, no administrative assistant. A simple knock on the senator’s door for our scheduled appointment was all it took.

In Vermont I found real people doing real work. My last meeting of the day was with staff on the front lines, and there I met Nurse Pam. Pam told the following story of profound transformational change.

A morbidly obese woman with a lifelong “resistance” to treatment and numerous co-occurring chronic conditions was referred to Nurse Pam for critically needed coordination of care. Pam did not follow the usual script. Instead, she asked this woman—who was directly facing her own mortality—what she wanted. This woman’s dream was to stay alive for six months, long enough to see her first grandchild. Their journey began. Pam provided what her patient needed: hope.

Those first few steps were the beginning of a journey. As is often the case, one dream leads to another. Nurse Pam’s patient has now lost more than 200 pounds.

What’s your dream?

Marcella Wilson, Ph.D. has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare administration, not-for-profit management, behavioral health, criminal justice, and public-sector programming. Her multiple degrees include a Doctorate in Health and Higher Education. Wilson is the author of Diagnosis: Poverty – A New Approach for Understanding and Treating an Epidemic, available from aha! Process.