It was Einstein who said that to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome: that is insanity. The Power People building a children’s hospital must come out from behind closed doors and show their faces. Quitting is insanity.
In 1993, I attended a meeting with pediatrician colleagues and Eugene Trani (then, a brand new president at VCU.) All the city’s power people came to talk about building a free-standing, full-service hospital for the children. It didn’t happen then. It hasn’t happened any number of times since. Announcements are made. Letters of intent are exchanged. People of great power and wealth meet and meet and meet…always behind closed doors. And still, no hospital for the children.
It’s like one big sandbox where the too-big-for-their-britches children refuse to play nicely. The mothers are not allowed to see the interactions and hold the players accountable for their foolishness.
What would happen if everybody with a stake in the game got to see what goes on behind closed doors? The largest philanthropic gift in the history of children’s hospitals is on the table, and all the power people have to do to pick it up is to collaborate with one another. If EVERY other city the size of Richmond has built a free-standing hospital for their children, could it be that difficult? What would happen if the power people had to hold their negotiations in front of the mothers whose children stand to benefit from collaboration? Could you do it Dr. Rao? Ms. Ardabell? If your meetings were displayed for all to see, would you say and do the same things?
Could you look us in the eye and show us how a business model and a revenue stream, how the need for 51% control is more important than the children? Than ALL the children? Could you convince us that you are justified as you quit again? We have approached the need for a real children’s hospital over and over in the exact same way: behind closed doors. It would be insanity to expect any other outcome than the failure we were delivered today. Do you really want to be remembered as the administrators who quit?
Until the mothers and fathers understand that they are entitled to know the problems of collaboration, to offer ideas and solutions, to encourage the children in the sandbox to make hard sacrifices, then we will never have a great children’s hospital.
I’ve been praying for the children and for the power people for more than twenty years. And I’m not done yet. I’m not a quitter. I care for and about the children.
Gayle Schrier Smith, MD