I stood on a stage in room filled with hope. A massive ballroom in Chicago filled with caregivers of all kinds from our country and others. They felt I had something to say…a perspective on healthcare delivery and the patient’s experience. Privileged to follow a life-long mentor and patient advocate, Don Berwick, M.D. I shared the story of this wonderful health system of ours and our own unique recipe for health reform…or health “transform.”
I spoke for an hour and 45 minutes to a group of idealistic, innovative, persuasive, patient-focused, extremely committed doctors, nurses, administrators, and policy-makers. My message was one of possibility and promise. One spawned from the voice of those who experience episodic or chronic disease and illness. A health system’s response to those whose days and nights are filled with uncertainty, anger, confusion, fear, and hope when their body fails them. Our country and the system of care is not aligned. So, we go our own way. We created a vision and a multi-year approach to changing EVERYTHING. We don’t have it right yet. We have a theory. I shared it. There was applause — one I didn’t deserve, but one that our system would gratefully appreciate. An acknowledgment of our courageous dive into doing what is right for those we serve…our patients and their loved ones.
I served as a voice box for a system that creates its own path. I am one architect in a company of many designers and artists in this canvas compassionate care.
To my Canadian and South American friends…thank you for your courage and your vision and your intolerance of anything less than a personal focus on doing better. To my USA colleagues…thanks for your wild commitment to mission. Thank you for tolerating and then validating my fanaticism for the patient’s experience. Your overwhelming response has humbled me and, most importantly, has reminded me of why I do what I do. I began with a story of my father, my daughter, and my son. They are my inspiration. You allowed me to share my heart and then share my perspective…flaws and all. I shared the vision of the exec team … Carl, Steve, Sallye, Jacque, John, Herb, and Fred and their tireless commitment to those we serve and those who do the serving. I shared our aim and our method. It resonated.
I sit here tonight, reflecting on our time together, the conversations with you all and the ideas for how we might treat our patients differently. I reflect on the emotions and the pragmatics of what is possible. We can do this! Thank you for asking me to represent OUR voice in the ‘greatest work on the planet’.