The Lesson Of Putin’s Inaction: Memo To The MD Anderson Faculty

The Lesson Of Putin’s Inaction: Memo To The MD Anderson Faculty


Leonard Zwelling

Finally, after multiple examples of Russian cyberwar incursions into America’s infrastructure and political processes, President Obama acted on December 29. He threw out some Russian officials, most of whom were probably spies, and closed down two facilities that harbored Russian agents. Good for him. Too little and way too late. I am sure that is exactly what Mrs. Clinton thinks as well.

The Americans in the White House were reported to be expecting a measured but equal response from the Russians and the Russian Foreign Minister is reported to have advised his boss, Mr. Putin, to do exactly that.


Mr. Putin did nothing, perching himself above the fray and twiddling his geopolitical thumbs until Mr. Trump can be inaugurated and they can really size each other up.

Somehow, after hacking away at the Democratic National Committee computers as well as the emails of John Podesta, while apparently releasing information via WikiLeaks that seemed to assist Mr. Trump’s drive to the Presidency, Mr. Putin looks like the adult. President Obama manages to look ineffective and late to the party, while Mr. Putin arrives at the party late and says, I cannot have a drink on New Year’s Eve because I am driving.

How did he do that?

Well, whatever he did, the Faculty Senate and the faculty at-large ought to be taking notes.

It is obvious at this point that even when safety net hospitals in Philadelphia are making a margin (reported in NY Times, above), MD Anderson is losing $111 million in three months, something is far more amiss on Holcombe than simply the introduction of EPIC.

I imagine it is some combination of overspending on buildings, over hiring, the over-diversion of clinical revenues for research purposes, and a general decline in clinical income due to poor reimbursement, cannibalization of patients through franchising of MD Anderson around Houston and the country, and a general increase of competition in the cancer care marketplace. When combined with a truly dreadful MD Anderson marketing program and good ones from Cancer Treatment Centers of America as well as from local players like Methodist, the deficit was preordained.

Now the faculty is being asked to bear the burden of the shortfall by seeing more patients and spending much less on cake, first-class airfare and days off. Hmmm…

Memo to the faculty. Try a Putin. Disengage.

If the faculty is unwilling to make a broad, overt statement of protest, it should just do its business. Write the grants; run the protocols; form the contracts. See the patients and do so with alacrity and joy, but do so on your own terms staying above the fray of the wringing hands and tear strewn green eyeshades atop Pickens.

That the leadership caused this financial problem is as true as the Russian hacking came from the top of the Kremlin. That does not put the onus on the Russians or the faculty to solve the problems. One might be better staying above it. Quietly and like Putin, wait for the new sheriff.

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