Joyanna Wesche Blake understands the importance of wellness for everyone. For more than 20 years, she has been working in IT in pharmaceutical companies. “I would have a hard time leaving pharma at this point,” she says. “They’re making medications to improve people’s lives. Even if I’m in a budgeting meeting, I know that what I’m doing has a greater purpose.”
Currently, Blake is the Senior Director of IT Operations at Alkermes, a pharmaceutical company based out of Dublin, Ireland, with manufacturing in Wilmington, OH. Her team supports the systems used in product manufacturing. “Quality management, laboratory systems, supply chain systems: We provide support and solutions.” Blake is also a new board member for Health Care Access Now.
What if everyone had access to health resources?
Blake has always worked at companies that emphasize the importance of employee health, but she realizes that not everyone has that advantage. “I have access to education and resources through my insurance. Wednesday is ‘wellness day’ in the cafeteria. We’re in the middle of a quarterly step challenge,” she says. “Imagine if everyone was taught how to create healthy life patterns early. How many chronic conditions could be avoided later in life?”
That’s why the work at HCAN resonates with Blake. “It’s an organization that fills an important need. If someone is dealing with a medical problem, it can consume so much. And if you have other issues, you might not even be able to focus on your own health,” she says. She is especially inspired by the focus on elderly and prenatal programs at HCAN.
“I want to have passion for what I’m doing on a daily basis. Working with HCAN can help me get even more engaged with helping people achieve wellness.”
Problem-solving and team-building
Bringing people together to accomplish goals has been the highlight of Blake’s career so far. “You can’t do much by yourself; you need to have a team.” For example, she has been working on a transition to paperless systems at Alkermes. “We’re replacing manual processes, and we’ve had a lot of wins around it. Change takes a long time! We’ll be paper free by 2023.”
Those kinds of lengthy and complex challenges appeal to Blake, and she looks forward to applying her enthusiasm for problem-solving and teamwork to the HCAN board. “I’ve always been a forward-focused person, and I enjoy creating long-range plans,” she says.
Blake appreciates the passion that the leadership and employees bring to HCAN. “Human connection is so important,” she says of the work Community Health Workers (CHWs) do. “Helping connect vulnerable people with resources, the focus on patient advocacy: It can make a big difference.”
She talks about how CHWs help instill clients with a sense of comfort around advocating for themselves. “It helps them become self-sufficient; it’s one thing to read or know something, and something else entirely to have an advocate pulling for you and holding you accountable,” she says.
Blake’s IT work allows Alkermes to produce medications aimed at addressing unmet medical needs and improving patients’ lives. She hopes her work at HCAN will make just as much of an impact: “I’m so excited about joining the board. HCAN makes a tangible difference in community health.”