Perspective

This week marks the second anniversary of my retirement from NorthBay Healthcare where I was CEO for over thirty-five years.  It is an important milestone for me but not for most people taking the time to read this entry.

I had  a total of forty-five years as a senior manager under my belt when you include my time at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley.  I enjoyed having the privilege of trying to make a difference in the providing of healthcare.  I worried whether I could step away from the day-to-day challenges with which I dealt.

Would I be bored?  As my successor recently jocularly texted me, “If you are bored and want some fun in your life, there is always budgets and managed care to entice you off the beach.”  I think he is envious.

To my surprise I am not bored.  I have traveled, spent more time with my seven grandchildren and explored personal interests for which I never had enough time to do when I was actively engaged in healthcare.  My old movie poster collection now numbers over thirteen hundred which inexplicably gives me great pleasure.

I am a retirement cliché and not bothered at all about that fact.

I do miss seeing on a regular basis the people who make NorthBay great.  Some have retired.  Some have moved on.  Sadly, some have passed away.  Still, those who remain continue to live the organization’s mission of compassionate care, advanced medicine, close to home.

I have gained, though, a perspective on healthcare which was not possible when I was in the middle of it.  I have learned not to react to every harebrained idea about healthcare which comes from a politician or second rate actor.

I have come to understand that there is much more right about our healthcare system than there is bad. The ignorant pundits need to get a life.

Most importantly, I now understand that healthcare is important but not as important as those of us immersed in it think it is.

It is part of an array of issues with which we cope.  That perspective–putting healthcare in its proper place–came to me only after I hit the beach.  Unless we fall ill or have chronic health issues, healthcare is not in the forefront of our daily activities.

With the 2020 election campaign now beginning in earnest, healthcare is once again becoming an issue for politicians of all stripes to exploit.  It has been that way since 1969 when Richard Nixon declared a healthcare crisis.  Fifty years later, we are still talking about that crisis.

“Health Affairs” in a September 18, 2018 blog article asked this  question.–how long can a crisis last? It is a great read and adds perspective.

“Health Affairs” in that article points out that most of the problems noted fifty years ago remain.   It also points out, though, that the percentage of healthcare costs covered by insurance for most people far exceeds what was the situation in the 1970s.  That is just one indication that the use of the word “crisis” is overblown. Again, it”s a matter of the proper perspective.

After two years on the beach, I do indeed see things differently.  I am not worrying about budgets or managed care.  And while things could be better in healthcare, they are not as bad as politicians and “experts” would lead you to believe.

I will be thinking about these things later this month when, for the first time since I metaphorically hit the beach, I will actually be on a beach in Maui.  I will be the guy in the Tommy Bahama T-shirt and shorts (required attire for Jimmy Buffett wannabees) reading “Modern Healthcare”  and “AARP Magazine” for pleasure. And I will maintain the proper perspective about healthcare.

 

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