Why I Still Write About MD Anderson

Why I Still Write About MD


Leonard Zwelling

         I know, I know, I should just get over it. I am long gone,
unconnected and grateful for the time I spent at Anderson. Why don’t I just
leave the knuckleheads alone?

         Anyone who knows me knows the answer to that one. It’s
simply not my nature.

         More importantly, apparently, it’s not yours either.  Every time I write about Anderson the number
of page views of my blog doubles. Someone is reading this stuff.

         Second, as my recent Commentary in the Duke Chronicle of
January 16 shows, I do not forget the places to which I owe so much. That is
obviously Duke and Duke Medical School where both Genie and I are Davison Club
members. (That means we give them a lot of money for us.) And Duke has been
very good to us with 5 degrees among my family members (I’m the one with 2) and
many dollars from my father, my father-in-law and us going to further the value
of those diplomas. Again, that does not mean I won’t criticize the knuckleheads
running Duke right now who seem to make the KHs running MD Anderson look like
geniuses. Between the lacrosse scandal, the spate of misconduct and IRB flaps
at the medical school and now this Muslim call to prayer from the Chapel
business, the President of Duke simply must resign. I don’t care how much money
he raises. He is not up to the required decision making and the Board of
Trustees ought to end his contract as soon as legally possible.

         Third, among my most treasured relationships are the ones I
have made over my 30 years at Anderson especially with those clinical
investigators on the frontlines of cancer human subjects research. They are my
heroes and they deserve a better place to work than the one they are being given now
and better leadership than currently on display within the faculty and more
importantly within Pickens. Let me be clear. All of them: DePinho, Dmitrovsky,
Buchholz, Fontaine and Leach simply have to go. The Division Heads need to be
put back in charge of both the faculty and the operations of their clinical services
and nursing needs to report to them not the CMO who the nursing staff clearly
has by the short hairs.

         Then we need to trim about 1000 or more non-faculty or advanced practitioner jobs from the
payroll and move out all routine cancer care from 1515 to less costly sites
around Houston. That would probably allow the firing of at least 30 vice
presidents right there. Hell, that would save $10M on the spot!

         Finally, the administrative bloat that keeps the clinicians
running like gerbils in a wheel to keep the revenue up would be gone and the
docs could get back to doing what they came here to do—clinical care and

         And one more thing. If the PTC says you are good enough for
tenure unanimously, the President has no say so in the matter. The power of the
President of MD Anderson needs some serious scrutiny. Once we left the age of
benevolence when Dr. LeMaistre retired, we needed to redo the job description
with some checks and balances. Since Austin seems unwilling to do so, perhaps the faculty better
do it here.

         Of course, there is always the cavalry in the form of the
Navy SEALS that might like a word on all of this. Chancellor McRaven—bring it!
It’s Zero Dark Thirty and we need you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *