The man at the community meeting in Atlanta casually asked Catrell Harris how to get a prescription for something that he’d heard speakers mention. The question stopped Catrell cold — and then eventually led him to Reingold to become the firm’s health technology director.
The man’s simple inquiry, based on a word he’d heard from so many medical professionals and social workers at the gathering devoted to health: “How do I get a prescription for a disparities pill?”
The poignant request made at a CDC-sponsored session that Catrell helped run took him from being behind-the-scenes academic researcher to hands-on advocate.
“That’s when I realized that all the textbook stuff about health needs doesn’t make it to the people. I wanted that information translated to the public,” says Catrell, who is an expert in bioinformatics and has a master’s in public health.
Now translate he does, helping Veterans understand technical jargon and cutting-edge apps on behalf of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a Reingold client. His travels around the country (for now, virtual) have helped show Veterans how to use technology that VA has created — as he puts it, to humanize the tech.
Heard of the Annie app? Thanks to Catrell, lots of Veterans now use it on their cellphones to help manage their diabetes and blood pressure.
Or how about VA Video Connect? Again, thanks to Catrell’s hands-on work, many Veterans now can use this telehealth option for their regular checkups.
It helps that he’s an extrovert, because in some cases — maintaining a booth at a health care fair, for example — Catrell provides a welcoming smile and a joke that draw in the shy and unsure, who end up learning more about the many services VA provides.
Working for Reingold since fall 2018, Catrell has overseen health education and training outreach efforts for thousands of Veterans, providers, and caregivers across the country. His mission, along with Reingold’s Brigetta Craft, who holds a doctorate in nursing practice: to meet and teach Veterans and health care providers, on behalf of the VA Office of Connected Care, about a slew of life-changing telehealth technologies that VA has created for Veterans.
Catrell doesn’t leave his welcoming ways on the road. Combining wit with a wide-ranging interest in people from all walks of life, he helps lead Reingold’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. And he’s been known to shine as an emcee at company events, where he calls on colleagues and also calls them out.
At work and at home, Catrell says, “I believe in being a part of the solution … not just identifying problems.” His route to finding solutions? “Embrace teachable moments. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Live a life of gratitude.”
Quote: “I’ve always believed in championing the voiceless in the room.”
Where He’s From
Catrell says of growing up in D.C.:
“It’s been a blessing to be around so many cultures and different types of thinkers — it’s helped make me the man I am today. My family composition is diverse (my maternal grandmother was white), so I have always been around different ethnicities and cultures and taught to treat others the way I want to be treated.”
Catrell’s favorite artist, Yvette Crocker (also a D.C. native), reflects his diverse tastes: “Her art reminds me of Ernie Barnes with a twist. I love how she portrays the many shades, shapes, sizes, and hair textures of Black women. She also has used art to address social issues, injustice, and the need for equity.”