Monday, November 21, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
The British author Terry Pratchett, in one of his early books, has a character describe the concept of “insurance” thusly: “It’s like a bet. You’re betting that something bad will happen to you, and the insurance company is betting that it won’t.”
With that in mind, I spoke with a few folks last week while travelling around rural France. It comes to this: They think we’re just bonkers. The average French citizen keeps well-versed with world news, and they are mystified that so much of Obama’s health care reforms are being challenged, skewered and hostilely vilified. “It seems like if you can afford it”, one wine maker told me, “you get good health care. If not, you have a problem.”
That simplistic assessment is about right, and his next guess was too: “If someone who doesn’t have insurance gets really sick or hurt, don’t you basically have to pay for them anyway?” Well, yes, I told him. We have laws that ensure that if you are having a heart attack and get yourself to a hospital, they will stabilize you.
“Yes, but then what?” My wine maker friend asked.
“Well, depending on where you live, and whether you can qualify for a government program, you either get follow up care, or you don’t.”
“And if you don’t, won’t you wind up back in the hospital with maybe another heart attack, and then everyone pays all over again?”
Simplistic, and again, true.
“I have travelled a lot,” said the wine maker, “and have been called a Communist in some places for supporting the French social medicine. I am surely not a Communist, but ours is a good system. The government pays, we are taxed, and that's that. Everyone should have good care, and it’s just our way.”
We talked further, and what was clear to him was that our system is more expensive (true) and not as humanistic. Ouch. The truth can hurt, but it helps remembering why I’m so proud to work in Santa Clara County, which has a great public health and hospital system…thanks to our local political leadership and a supportive community. The dedicated team at VMC is even working to solve the problem described above – to offer all needed preventative and follow-up care to the insured and uninsured alike, which is better for them and cheaper for all of us. For much more on this topic, check out the brilliant blog post by Ezekiel Emanuel called “Saving by the Bundle”. It truly reads like what Valley Medical Center is doing – and speaks to the human element of what we’re on about.
Or, to remember Terry Pratchett’s assessment, the French have decided a better wager is for EVERYONE to bet that something bad will happen to SOMEONE, and that since any of us could be that someone, we should all look after our own.
Anyway, it's good to be home with a head full of memories...and perspective.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
I was delighted to announce last month a new partnership with the Sharks Foundation that will transform a VMC pediatric clinic into a Sharks-themed center of health, fun and overall awesomeness.
Well it gets even better.
To help raise funds for the project, the Sharks Foundation is hosting the inaugural “Sharks & Strikes” charity bowling tournament on November 14th, and you are invited. Join the Sharks Foundation, Sharks players, coaches and broadcasters for a night of bowling and raise money for a great cause. Prices start at only $100 for youth and $150 for adults with proceeds benefiting the “Sharks Pediatric Clinic at Valley Health Center Tully.”
The event will take place at 300 San Jose, near the Oakridge Mall. Tickets are limited, so act fast. For more information or to register, visit .
Thursday, October 20, 2011
The San Jose Sharks are a team of tough, big, scrappy and talented hockey players…but they are also deeply committed to their community. No wonder, then, that their entire organization and Foundation are too. Here's a picture of them visiting Valley Medical Center a while back...and our work together continued...
That’s why we’re thrilled to announce a new partnership between the Sharks Foundation and the VMC Foundation: The San Jose Sharks Pediatric Clinic at VHC Tully!
The clinic is already there at Valley Health Center Tully in San Jose, and serves more than 6,000 children each month! And while it’s long on quality care for kids, it’s short on décor and inspiration.
Enter the Sharks, who are investing up to $100,000 to “re-imagine” the Clinic. We’ll have Sharks images of players, team colors throughout and of course “Sharkie”, the team mascot everywhere. More than just looking good, the clinic will be full of healthy tips for kids and parents: Take a BITE out of your veggies, drink water not soda, get your exercise and immunizations…all positive messages to match the positive look and feel.
Parents will love it too, and of course this “Legacy Project” will help the Sharks show off their involvement in our community. They already do a lot, but this is a very big deal. Huge thanks to Jeff Cafuir, the Sharks Foundation Manager, for spearheading the project along with our team here at the VMC Foundation and throughout the Sharks organization.
So yes, the Sharks are caring, humble, community-minded idealists…unless of course you meet them on the ice. Wearing an Anaheim Ducks uniform.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Music is more important to me than most things, and for years I’ve served on the Board of Directors of San Jose Jazz. Our Summerfest is the biggest deal in town every August, bringing 100,000 music lovers together for a weekend of celebration and performance. This year’s was maybe the best festival yet…
Ticket sales, beer, food, weekend weather…all similar to 2010. Could our efforts to promote a “Soda-Free Summer” be working? Well, let’s look at some facts:
- The Bay Area Nutrition and Physical Activity Collaborative (BANPAC, part of the VMC Foundation) has data that shows parents and kids are starting to get the message and reduce soda consumption.
- There’s been a sharp rise in local media about the dangers of sweetened drinks this year.
- The American Beverage Association (representing soda makers) recently called Santa Clara County’s anti-soda messages “misleading”. They’re not, and we have reams of data to prove it…but they’re worried, and that’s good.
- Kaiser Permanente, the biggest supporter of our “Re-Think Your Drink” efforts in Silicon Valley, became a major sponsor of San Jose Jazz’s Summerfest this year!
Yes – this is a big deal. For the first time, KP was a major player in our Jazz Festival, setting up wellness stations around the Salsa Stage (the most physically active of the Summerfest, with non-stop dancing all weekend). They gave away water with fresh lemon to all revelers, promoting a healthier alternative to soda.
My friend, colleague and VMC Foundation Board Member Kathleen King takes all the credit: “My giving up diet soda this year is personally responsible for the decline”, she joked with me yesterday. But she’s on to something: The fight to reduce unhealthy drink intake is going to ultimately be fought one person, one family at a time. And with obesity and diabetes rates still climbing, a fight is exactly what this is. Please, join us—it starting to work!
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
1. Yes, I was sober. Mostly.
2. No, it wasn't pre-planned, other than the thought crossed my mind a couple hours earlier. David DuMont's amazing band provided unplanned appropriate music though, which made it seemed rehearsed. It wasn't.
3. Yes, I left my good shoes on, but remembered to take my blackberry out of my pocket.
Here's how it reads in today's Mercury News:
Pizarro: VMC Foundation Executive Director Chris Wilder takes a giant leap for charity
Monday, August 29, 2011
I met recently with Jennifer Loving, the CEO of Destination: Home. They are a great Silicon Valley agency working to end chronic homelessness, and I’m inspired by their effort.
I’ll admit something to you: There are times when I’ve turned away at seeing a homeless person or family, as it’s just too painful. But let’s take the emotion out of the issue for a minute: Our community spends tens of millions annually (yes, right here in Silicon Valley) without addressing the core issue that people need a home.
Because if they had one, we ALL would benefit. Several studies show that a person that is chronically homeless costs $60,000 a year…in shelters, food assistance, law enforcement – but mostly, medical care. In our community, that means Valley Medical Center.
You may know that Jennifer Loving’s team surveyed some of our county’s homeless a couple of months ago. Here’s some of what they learned from the 943 people they met:
- 100 were 60 years old or more
- More than half visited the emergency department in the last 3 months, resulting in
- 644 hospitalizations in a year.
- Half reported a serious medical condition like heart disease, hepatitis or liver disease.
- 144 were veterans (this, IMHO, is a national disgrace).
- Almost all reported a behavioral health issue or mental illness.
There is a ton more data at http://www.housing1000sv.org/ but you get my point: Even if I didn’t care about the homeless (I do), I’d sure care about the money they cost us all. And I won’t live in a society that just lets them die. I’ll leave. Goodbye.
While Destination Home works on longer-term solutions, Valley Medical Center meets short-term needs with an award-winning program called New Directions. VMC staff see frequent users of our county’s Emergency Department and provide housing, transportation and specialized assistance…the goal being to keep them healthier and out of the hospital.
The VMC Foundation raises money to support New Directions, but funds have run dry. If you would like to help, please click here and give as generously as you can.
There are more than 7,000 homeless people in Santa Clara County on any given night. Help us help them, with my thanks.