Spotlight on Becki Hale
As director of Child Health Evaluation, Becki Hale has a daunting task ahead of her. The CCHAPS endeavor is quite a sizable undertaking, but it's more than a survey.
"Along with the responsibility to overcome the prominent health issues identified in our region through the survey," she said. "I believe we can make real progress in addressing health equity issues at the same time because access to care is consistently one of the issues the survey identifies."
Leaving the small town of Hillsboro in 2000 for dental hygiene school, Becki moved to the big city of Houston with its population diverse in race, ethnicity and household income, and it opened her eyes to such inequity.
Working through hands-on clinical practices and studies, it became clear to Becki that families of color and lower-income families will inherently have different health issues, priorities and overall experiences.
"As a young student, seeing firsthand that not everyone has access to even basic dental care was a revelation to me," Becki admitted. "And as any dental professional will tell you, dental health is absolutely connected to overall physical health. We should address that gap in dental care and not let it cause larger problems."
This realization sparked a fire in Becki that would motivate her to pursue post-graduate work in community health.
By continuing her dental hygiene career in the meantime, her path would ultimately lead her to an opening at Cook Children's a decade ago.
"At the time, the Child Study Center had a dental clinic on-site, so I was still tapping into my desire for more community-based or specialized dental work and not a traditional dentist's office," Becki explained. "It was there that I met Dr. Tonya Fuqua [Save a Smile program director] who brought me on board as the Children's Oral Health Coalition coordinator."
For 10 years, Becki has relished the professional experiences that the Center for Children's Health has given her because she deeply believes in this work and our Promise. As she grew into a leadership role, she draws upon that earnest belief in Cook Children's and the examples set by those she has looked up to throughout her career.
"I love how our leadership leads by example," Becki said. "Our former AVP Ginny Hickman would always tell us to treat everyone fairly, everyone brings something unique to the table and every voice should be heard. That's an example that I strive to follow." Through the CCHAPS survey, Becki is very much putting that approach into practice. Listening and acting upon what is heard and learned will have an impact and she is excited about what that means for the children in our area.
"Even though my husband and I can't have kids of our own, within my role, I truly believe that I get to make a difference in the lives of not just a couple of children but thousands and thousands of children and their parents," Becki humbly shared.
"That is why, for me, Cook Children's is a warm and fuzzy place," she said, beaming. "It's a place that makes you feel good. The culture. The people. The work. All of it brings a smile to my face."