The Furrier Cometh

By

Leonard Zwelling

            My
old friend and colleague Fred Becker was right all along. The leopard won’t
change his spots until he hears the furrier coming. Dr. DePinho and the Band of
Five Others blinked yesterday afternoon in the A T and T Auditorium with the
furrier rapping on the door.  Some
sort of financial bonus will be given to the clinical faculty after all.

            Of
course, Dr. DePinho accused the media of “unwarranted assaults” on MD Anderson
for reporting accurately what was said at the meeting with the Chancellor last
week. No Dr. Kantarjian, no leaks needed. The Chronicle’s Eric Berger was in
the audience despite Dr. Killary’s request to limit attendance to faculty
members. If you want faculty only, have a badge reader at the door. Did no one
from public relations see Mr. Berger and speak up? I even looked for him, but
did not see him in the sea of humanity that I understand overflowed to another
room beyond the Hickey

            As
is often the case at large meetings that the President runs, there were more
speeches than questions and answers Monday afternoon. This was mostly not the
case last Wednesday—at least the question part. Answers from the UT trio were
in short supply, but at least the faculty felt free to express their
displeasure rather than laud and applaud the collected leaders as was the case
Monday.

            Despite
comments from most of the Gang of 5 + 1, I still did not hear where we are
going and how we will respond to the questions raised about the quality of our
clinical care and patient safety. I still saw no leadership. Did you?

            Overworking
the Provost and his Senior VP as a means of cost-containment seems unwise.
There was more talk of task forces and committees, but I think the time for
this has passed. The leaders need to demonstrate that they actually are leaders
and I still didn’t see it yesterday.

            The
President referred to a strategic plan that I thought I had missed until he
clarified that he had decided what the plan was about and now he just wanted
help coloring in between the lines he had already drawn.

            As
I sat there hunched down in a corner, all I could feel was sad. A great
institution had been reduced to having 6 men (yes, all men) standing in front
of a partially filled room explaining themselves at the point of a bayonet held
by the Chancellor who had generated an SRO crowd himself the week before.
Wouldn’t you have liked to have been a fly on the wall when the Chancellor and
Dr. DePinho first spoke after last week’s meeting? I would have.

            I
am sticking by my hypothesis. If Dr. DePInho wants to turn this around, he
cannot blame the Cleveland Clinic or Sloan Kettering or the Cancer Letter or
the Houston Chronicle. He’s in charge. He has to fix it. If the Gang of 5 he
has chosen to be his agents remains the group to do this, I fear he is unlikely
to succeed.

            Even
Nixon eventually fired Haldeman. Unfortunately, it was too late.

Leonard Zwelling