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Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with the Senior Care Industry Podcast where leaders with three or more years in the senior care industry get to share their advice. It’s six questions in nine minutes, so let’s get to it.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. In a few sentences tell me who you are and what you do.

Dr. Michael Fratkin :

My name is Michael. Michael Fratkin. Dr. Fratkin. I am a father and a husband, and a brother, and I’m also what’s called a palliative care doctor. And what a palliative care doctor does, at least when I’m doing it, is three things.

Dr. Michael Fratkin, ResolutionCare.com

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Number one. We don’t take care of any patients. We only take care of people and we do it with a team that surrounds and looks at that person from multiple perspectives.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

We do it with a doctor, a nurse, a social worker, a chaplain, community health worker, patient care coordinator wrapped around to see a person, essentially as they see themselves, we hope.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

So, the second thing that we do, is we’re very good at the treatment of symptoms. Pain, breathlessness, nausea, whatever you’re suffering from, whatever you’re feeling as a result of a serious illness.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

We’ve got a pretty good bag of tricks and we know how to use them. The third thing that we do, is we help people and their families to navigate, to make their way through what are also very complicated medical situations, but what are always really difficult human situations. So, that’s what I do.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

I’m part of a team. It’s called Resolution Care Network, and that’s what I’ve built.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice. Thank you. Your work is so important and I read, I guess I was telling you earlier, I read about you on your website and about your team and what you guys do, and what a wonderful service for those who are oftentimes, maybe not always, but often facing end of life situations, and so that’s awesome.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Yeah. Well I think we’re all kind of facing end of life situations, aren’t we? I mean, that was true before COVID-19 and maybe we’re a bit more aware of our mortality, even if we’re not burdened by a very serious illness. We’re all sort of, vibrating a little bit with a random uncertainty of a terrible infection.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That is totally true. I mean, we have, protecting ourselves, our family members, and not being able to see each other. It’s been a crazy, crazy time, so you’re right. We’re all kind of, vibrating about what end of life might look like.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

My hope is, is that’s a useful thing for us.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

To be aware that everything we take for granted is not to be taken for granted. That everything we love, and everything we experience, this sort of, illusion of immortality that we take through our lives, maybe that could be modified a little bit.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I think a lot more people are, at the very least thinking about getting some paperwork together to make sure that everyone else knows what to do the day I die. Those kinds of things are being talked about quite a bit, so you’re right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So, tell me what’s the best thing, I say about serving aging adults, but I’m going to guess you see all kinds of adults. And maybe children too.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So, what’s the best thing about what you do and the people that you serve?

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

The best thing is to explore the mysteries and nuances of every individual person that we meet. The older they are, the more complicated and unique history they have. They might be able to tell me stories about a world I wasn’t a part of, that gave me a sense of how to make sense of the world that I am a part of.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Working with elders gives me a solid foundation to understand my own life a little bit better.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Wow.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

And it gives me a sense of purpose, and validates that all of my efforts are really an expression of respect. So, those are the things that I get most from it.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Thank you. And my next question is a little bit, it changes the course of our discussion a little bit, but we’re in a time when the networking in person is not as possible. We might be getting there, but we’ve had a lot of experience lately with having to change the course of how we reach out to people.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So, I hear that, and we do this, so I understand that marketing online is challenging. It’s confusing, it’s ever changing, what is you and your team, what have been your thoughts about changing how you market or how you reach out to people?

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

One of the first helpers for me was a woman, I took care of her husband. And she’s a person of means, she built an incredible business of her own and the experience that she had of me taking care of her husband was transformative for her.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

It helped her look at and understand the healthcare system in a completely different way, and the sort of, radical idea that we can actually center the care that we provide around a person, not a disease state, that we can construct care around what matters to a person, rather than what’s the matter with the person was mind blowing for her.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

And she told me, and she has a 15 or 20 year arc of building a beautiful and successful business, and she [inaudible 00:06:28] things. She said, “Don’t tell your own story. Let the people like me and Roger, carry what this is forward.”

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

And so, we have been working very hard for the five years we’ve been doing this to get ourselves out of the way. And what we’ve done, is we’ve turned our camera to people.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

At first we had them, they would tell us about what they found to be groovy and cool about palliative care or Resolution Care, but as it evolved we stopped asking them to do that, and we just asked them to share what they feel is important to others from their vantage point.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

And so, many of them don’t even talk about their illness. They talk about their life, and just the fact that we’re there honoring them with that camera is enough of a message that connects whatever it is that they’re sharing about, what they’ve learned in life, or what they wish they had done differently, or what they hope for the people that they leave behind, the fact that we’re there kind of, implicitly holding the camera is enough of a connection to this work.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

It’s a demonstration of the way that we honor, respect, and hold people who are going through hard times.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice. And so, you’re able to share. That’s a great … It even speaks to some folks who are maybe not as, in exactly the kind of business you’re in, just letting a senior speak or a client, let them speak about their experiences.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Testimonials are fine, they’re awesome, but sharing their story is even more powerful. You’re right.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

It’s old school. It’s old school.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

And more, and more, if you look on the website ResolutionCare.com and look for voices, you’ll see that there’s also some portraiture that a photographer did, that tells the story that way, as well as a series of videos.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Oh wow.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

And you’ll probably be able to track the ones that were the first, where we weren’t quite out of the way and then later that we got out of the way.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

There’s a great methodology online called Story Branding, and although it’s more about branding your story, this kind of goes right in line with that. It’s letting people tell their story, and that’s powerful enough.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

And then we put our name at the bottom. Resolution Care, and our website, and I think that people … It’s interesting. In a business like this that’s so integrated into a very complicated healthcare system, there’s a tendency to direct marketing or messaging to the people that are going to be writing you checks.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

And we’ve done that. We have told our story, we’ve made presentations, and TED Talks, and whatever. That kind of stuff. But actually, the thing that’s been the most satisfying, and I think most lifting, have been the, just direct to the public conversation about what we’re up to, why we’re doing it, why it’s important, and how it resonates with them and their families as they try to navigate the craziness of our healthcare system.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. That’s awesome. Great job. We’ll check that out and when we put this interview out there we’ll make sure everybody knows where to go to look at all of that.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Yeah, to find us.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And learn from your example, and learn more about you, and your business, and your clients, and your people. I should say your people.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Okay. I would imagine that you’ve been a mentor to many, but I’m sure there are people that you work with every day on your team or someone in your life who’s been a really good influence or big influence on you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So, who are those people in your life that have made such a difference?

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Oh my goodness.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Professionally, personally.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Yeah. Well, there have been a series of people in my life. Ah, that’s a very good question. So, I can name them, but that won’t mean anything to the listeners.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

But the people that have made the biggest difference for me have been people that I had put on a pedestal, but then developed a relationship that leveled the playing field.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

So, my friend Scott [inaudible 00:11:08] high school, my mentor Tom Evans, infectious disease doctor currently working on vaccine research for the current pandemic. Creighton King, an ultra marathoner and dear friend of mine, and high school teacher. And then Mary, the woman I just spoke about who, at the very beginning of building a business, which I never thought I would ever do, has been an advisor all the way along to try and help me keep my eye on the prize of what it is.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

So, these are people that started off as like, “Oh, wow they’re so cool and amazing, and I can learn so much from them,” and then over time we’ve come together in a friendship. Those are the really strong mentors in my life.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And learn from each other. Yeah. Great.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Yeah. Totally.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Okay. So, this is a good one, because I bet you have lots of good advice. I can tell. So, what piece of advice would you give to other providers in general. Senior care, palliative care, respite care. Whatever they might be doing?

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Build whatever you’re doing from the bedside upward, not from the white board or board room downward. Focus your attention on what’s actually happening in connection with the people who you’re taking responsibility to serve.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Find out from them what’s needed and then build from that. Not from what’s needed by health insurance companies, or regulators, or professional services organizations, or health systems, or spreadsheets, and flow charts, and then is filtered down and shove it down the throat of people who are vulnerable.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

They need to be at the center of everything you do, and everything you build, if you’re in the business of healthcare. If you’re in the business of making chocolate chip cookies, do it differently.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

These are human beings that are suffering great distress, and they’re trusting you, so go to them first.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Great. Great advice. Very much so. I think we get lost in the white boards and the spreadsheets, and the numbers a lot. It’s easy to get lost in that, but when you’re at the bedside looking at someone and talking to them, I think that all gives us a renewed sense of purpose and the reason why we do what we do.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

It’s also much more straightforward. They’ll tell you exactly what defines your success.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

“Improve my quality of life, treat me like a person, help me navigate tough decisions, help my family understand what’s happening, bring the resources that are required to support them in caring for me no matter what. Give me as much control as I can have.”

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

These are the kinds of things that people tell you. And those are our marching orders.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep. That’s good. [crosstalk 00:14:17].

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Straightforward.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Absolutely. All right. This is supposed to be our fun, happy question. When you have a win in life, it could be professionally, it could be a goal that you set personally. When you have a win in life how do you like to celebrate? Family, friends, team, whatever you want to talk about.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Well, it’s funny, when I have rough moments and when I have celebratory moments I take into sipping a little bit of my very favorite tequila.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

This is not a product placement, this is actually my favorite tequila. And so, I keep it here under my desk for both circumstances. At least when it happens at the end of the day I have a little sip as a sort of, symbol of celebration or a little soothing tonic for the hard moments. So, it’s kind of the same thing.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You wouldn’t be the first person that’s said that. I had somebody tell me a vodka martini with three olives.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

There you go. See.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

If you’re winning, it works. Celebration or a tough day.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

It’s nice to be working from home, because I get to keep this right next to my desk and even though I haven’t touched it for about a week or so, I haven’t done anything to celebrate or soothe myself from. It’s kind of nice to know it’s there.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

It’s waiting for whatever you need. That’s right.

Dr. Michael Fratkin :

That’s right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Awesome. Well, Dr. Michael Fratkin thank you so much for being on the show and for doing this interview. I know it’s short, but you’ve given us a lot of valuable insight and I really appreciate it.

Dr. Michael Fratkin :

Oh no, it’s my pleasure. It’s my pleasure. I’d like to encourage people to check us out and come to the website ResolutionCare.com. Enjoy what you enjoy about it. Send me a note if you like what you see, or if you don’t like what you see.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I think they’ll like what they see. I did.

Dr. Michael Fratkin :

You did?

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Dr. Michael Fratkin :

Okay. And there’s a bunch of resources we’ve put together specific for COVID-19 [inaudible 00:16:18] those kinds of things that people might find to be particularly practical and useful now too. So, happy to provide those resources.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Great. Thank you so much. I appreciate you. I appreciate you coming on, so thank you.

Dr. Michael Fratkin:

My pleasure, Valerie. Thank you so much.

About Dr. Michael Fratkin:

Father, husband, brother, son, and physician, Dr. Michael Fratkin is dedicated to the well being of his community. Since completing his training, he has made his home and built his family in rural Northern California. He has served his community in primary care in a community clinic system, as a medical director of our local hospice, as a leader in the community hospital medical staff, and a transformative voice for improving the experience of people facing the end of life.


At a time of great demographic and cultural change in our society, Dr. Fratkin has created ResolutionCare to insure capable and soulful care of everyone, everywhere as they approach the completion of life.

ResolutionCare leverages partnerships with existing healthcare providers and payers to provide telehealth applications that bring greater quality of living and greater quality of dying. The Palliative Care team at ResolutionCare openly shares our expertise and mentorship so people can receive the care they need where they live and on their own terms.