150,000 Can’t Be Wrong

By

Leonard Zwelling

            Before
I close up shop as an Anderson blogger next week and go independent (same URL, no
worries), I would like to acknowledge those of you who have contacted me in
person or by email about the blog. It has been most encouraging to know that
you are out there and that what I am writing in some small way contributes to
the hallway and water cooler discussions about how our beloved institution has
fallen so far so fast.

            This
occurs as we reach another milestone in the blog’s history—150,000 page views.
Who would ever have thunk it back in the early part of the year when we began
together.

            What
still troubles me though is that we really have progressed very little in the
substantive realm since I started writing and you have been kind enough to read
and write to me. This should not be surprising though. Our leadership is truly
dreadful and has been for at least 12 years.

            This
quest for money began long before Dr. DePinho ever submitted his cv to UT
System to be considered for the President’s job. The past president undermined
the integrity of the institution and its leadership long ago, The economic
collapse of 2008 that derived from a business model with an over-dependence on
the stock market and revenue from operations inadequate to support the
operational expenses rests at the feet of the very people still in charge of
Finance, Administration and Clinical Operations. Despite some comments last
Wednesday lauding Dr. Mendelsohn, a more clear-eyed examination of history will
reveal that we have been accelerating down the road to hell for over a decade
and that chariot has been pulled by the same horses pulling it now. They just
pass more buildings now than 12 years ago.

            I
actually believe that we have hit the tipping point. Dr. DePinho has one of two
choices. Either he relieves those around him of their duties and replaces them
with knowledgeable executives who exemplify the core values of integrity,
caring and discovery or he will be forced to give up his job after UT System
cleans house here. There simply cannot be other solutions when the patient care
at Anderson comes into question. No number if surveys will be enough. No one
will believe any that show that things are really not all that bad. No task
force or faculty participation in investigations will be enough until those who
have caused this mess are held accountable.

            Dr.
Shine wanted to know when there was “sufficient a pound of flesh” taken for Dr.
DePinho’s past misdeeds. This is the wrong question. The right one is when will
all of those people who have plunged the Anderson into such a crisis be called
out and answer for their actions.

            If
we are over bloated in the administrative areas, as most of us believe, who
hired all of those people and which Senior VP do they report to?

            If
our financial house is not in order, which EVP developed the business model
that threw us into deficit spending and budget short falls?

            If
the clinical care quality has slipped and safety compromised, whose shop is
that in? Chief Medical Officer? Nursing? Quality Control?

            What
baffles me is that there should be so much uncertainty about who to blame. When
I made a mistake as a VP, Dr. Mendelsohn had no trouble finding me to throw
under his bus. Why are the perps of today seemingly so elusive?

            Dr.
DePinho has his hands on the wheel for now. How he steers his bus, will
determine to a large extent whether he continues to have a bus, let alone the
wheel of it. I am quite sure that if he does not unload those on his bus who
are responsible for the faltering future of MD Anderson, he will take the full
blame himself and that would be far more than a pound of flesh for all of this
is not of his making. This has been a teapot brewing for many years with the
lid on tight and the heat turned up. Either someone depressurizes the situation
or this baby is going to boil over.

            There
is yet time to reduce the heat, but actions not talk will be needed and the
timer is ticking away. 

Leonard Zwelling