Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Call to Service - "because that's what we do."

History was made yesterday at Valley Medical Center.

In a moving ceremony, our new flagpoles were commissioned and the colors flown, thanks to our own VMC Color Guard, Veteran Marines all, from VMC's Protective Services Department. No ceremony like it had ever taken place before. The need was a result of Measure A's passing in 2008, requiring the installation of new flagpoles (the old ones are where the new hospital will go).

Also, for the very first time, the POW/MIA flag now joins the California Flag and the Stars and Stripes. Colonel Dean Winslow, M.D., who actively serves in the Air Force while also as Medical Director of VMC's PACE Clinic, thanked the administrators of YOUR public medical center for the opportunity to do both. His tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan are only part of his riviting personal story.

(Photos are here, courtesy of Flickr and VMC's Luis Gonzalez)

Perhaps the most moving speech of the day was delivered by retired Colonel William Peacock. I'm proud to call Bill a friend, and his service to our nation goes back to his time in the White House under Carter and Reagan, and before that, Viet Nam. Bill is also a member of the Soverign Order of St. John, which has built hospitals around the world for over a thousand years.

Below is a transcript of his speech, which perfectly brought home the idea of service - both in the military and the medical field. PLEASE READ AND SHARE with others...this one deserves to be spread around:

To all veterans and Colonel Winslow, MD: I honor you for your noble service in our nation’s latest wars, and in many ways I wish I could join you. It is probably best, however, that I do not join in this expedition because we all know that we old veterans are pretty cranky and doggone impatient, and in this new and different kind of battle, as it is coming to be well known, patience is more a virtue in this new kind of war than it may have been in our earlier and seemingly simpler military conflicts.

In this connection, just the other day, an email came over the net that showed a photograph of an Army medic, the same caliber youngster as a Navy corpsman. Please note my pronunciation of “corpsman,” for those who follow the news. [laughter, especially from the vets in the crowd].

The medic was carrying on his back a badly wounded Iraqi soldier through the middle of a vicious firefight. A member of the European press yelled out in a jeering and derisive manner to the U.S. Army medic as he ran with this heavy and bleeding body in the “fireman’s carry” to the nearest combat medical facility. The foreign cameraman yelled out, “Why are you risking your life for him? He’s only an Iraqi.”

The American soldier replied through gritted teeth, “Because that’s what we do.”

A great phrase, “That’s what we do!” Think about it: it applies with near-perfect congruence to what every man and woman here at Valley Medical Center does every hour of every day, 24/7, 365. That is what you do—you take care of them all—the sick, the wounded, the needy, the disenfranchised, the poor. Just like our nation’s Army medics and the Navy corpsman. You take them all: That’s what you do.

So it is all too fitting that proud members of your military, past and present, are here, standing tall to honor you, the women and men of Valley Medical Center, as you dedicate and commission your new flagpole: a flagpole that flies at its apogee the stars and stripes, a symbol of freedom known everywhere on this troubled planet.

So too it is fitting that Captain Schork, his Honor Guard of Marines, Colonel Dean Winslow, MD of the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps, and I, a Vietnam era Marine, salute you: because you, the people of VMC, here safe in Silicon Valley, are a very close analogy to our front-line combat troops. Why? Because like the troops, you could exercise your freedom of choice and do something else all day or all night, but you choose to care for them all. Therefore, you may have other slogans, but I suggest that underlying it all is the crystal clear ringing phrase: “That is what we do.”

For your service to others, may God bless and thank you.

Col. Bill Peacock, retired Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thanking our donors: A selfish thing to do...

Friday marked the unveiling of the VMC Foundation's new Donor Wall outside the Sobrato Cancer Center in the newest building on VMC's campus. VIP's and wealthy philanthropists mingled with doctors, nurses and administrators as we celebrated the generosity of our community.

...and I've gotta say, A little gratitude goes a long way.

For one thing, our staff and that of VMC felt so good to hear from our donors, including the famous Peggy Fleming-Jenkins and her talented wine-making husband, Dr. Greg Jenkins. They pulled back the curtain to reveal the new beautiful donor wall, and we all felt a surge of pride.

But hearing John A. Sobrato tell the group why he is so committed to VMC, well that is a gift so heartfelt and powerful, I feel like we all came away enriched. Yes, I know that sounds overly-emotional, but if you were there, then you know.

...and if you weren't there, please read this wonderful blog post from Erica Cosgrove, regular contributor to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. She describes the day better than I ever could. If you're moved by what you read, please share it with others. Our donors deserve the notoriety, and frankly, so does the beautiful Sobrato Cancer Center at VMC.

If you're REALLY moved, please visit

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Social Media...what are we doing here, anyway?

San Diego, CA – This year’s conference of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (thankfully known as NACHRI) included a workshop on how medical centers can and should be using social media.

The presenters were me, Ed Bennett and Deb Braidic. Ed directs media strategy for the University of Maryland Medical System, and Deb manages web content for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. We had a great time and I think the audience did too…some came all the way from the UK to be there, and if the tweets and comments and reports are an indication, we rocked the house.

Here are a few take-aways, without attributing them to any of us (we were all brilliant, of course):

• Hospitals are behind in using social media, and most that do are large institutions. Out of 6,000 hospitals in the USA, only 557 have social media accounts.
• Almost all block employee access to social media, yet the rules about privacy or “wasting time at work” are the same as with email…and nobody blocks that!
• Best quote of the conference: “The control issue of social media is very important to people who care about being in control”.
• …which is why we all should do social media: We are NOT in control of our own message anymore. Time to face that reality.
• Social media can help win campaigns (2008’s Measure A), can help keep donors connected, and spread the word faster than ever before.
• Therefore, don’t worry about the ROI just yet…focus on ROC: Return on connections. Besides, these tools are free and don’t take up too much time.
• 5 years from now, a conference like this will sound as silly as one advertising “the strategic uses of the fax machine.” This is increasingly how people communicate, and there’s no going back.

To see more comments and links to the four-hour discussion, search for #2010cc in Twitter. What? You don’t use Twitter? You should, in my not-very-humble opinion. It’s fun and keeps you connected…you can use it to populate your Facebook status as well. No, Facebook and Twitter are NOT just for 16-year-olds. They really can help medical centers reach the audience they seek – I know it works for the VMC Foundation.

http://http://bit.ly/b3F7AU for more on my presentation…thanks NACHRI, Deb and Ed!

Friday, March 5, 2010

VMC Foundation: Jobs, health, and Silicon Valley

Next Friday, please consider attending a breakfast forum I'm helping present...and I promise you'll be glad you did, because it's important and engaging.

I'm in this year's class of American Leadership Forum, and our event Friday March 12 is called "A New Recipe for Job Growth." What it WON'T be is a typical "panel discussion with Q&A." Rather, you will be a participant in this uncommon conversation aimed at solving what many feel is our #1 problem: Jobs.

How does the VMC Foundation fit in? That's easy: Your public hospital's patient population is soaring as unprecedented numbers of people have lost their jobs/ health coverage and are turning to VMC. The stress is at an all-time high, and we've got to do something. Several things, actually.

Silicon Valley's unemployment rate is WAY higher than the national average. Add to that Colorado's Governor declaring "Colorado Loves California" Day last month, trying to lure companies away from here to relocate there. Yikes.

We've assembled a top group of leaders to participate in this critical discussion. Please be one of them, and register by clicking here.


A New Recipe for Regional Job Growth - a Conversation for Change
Friday, March 12, 7:30 am - 10:30am
Computer History Museum
1401 North Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View, CA
$25 general, $15 seniors/nonprofits, free for students

Hope to see you there!