Leonard Zwelling

         A little reportage from the front.

         Apparently your friends at MD Anderson Information Systems
are watching you. They will notice if you log into the network from an IP
address distant from Houston and ask you whether you have taken leave and/or
have registered your travel from Houston in the system. Hey, they know if
you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake. If they can do that, you
can bet they can read your email. You can also bet that they are reading your
email. Big Brother is watching. They admit to as much. No expectation of
privacy on that network. Never has been.

         In another interesting development, many of you know that
many of the lab buildings were closed for weeks and are only now allowing
workers to come back. Guess whose addresses were missing from the mail routes.
That’s right. No mail has been delivered to some of these buildings in weeks.
It must be piling up in the mailroom needing delivery and local sorting. Who
the heck is going to alleviate the mail distribution backlog on short

         This all speaks to the issue of MD Anderson’s
corporatization that this blog has noted in the past. I fear that with the
coming of management school philosophy to an academic medical center we shall
also see the coming of bloated org charts (does MD Anderson really need 22,000
employees?) and empty administrative buildings as more and more workers toil
from home. MD Anderson is not Amazon and even Amazon does not expect their
warehouse workers to work from home.

         The address of MD Anderson is still 1515 Holcombe Boulevard,
Houston, TX 77030. It needs to stay that way. Multidisciplinary clinical care,
clinical research, basic science and population-based investigation and
prevention all depend on an interacting work force and I don’t mean on Zoom.

         If the leadership of MD Anderson really believes that it can
move 30% of the work force to their living rooms, I suggest that MD Anderson
moth ball the Good Ship Mendelsohn and outsource the back office functions of
payroll, HR, legal, etc. What always made being an administrator at MD Anderson
unique was my close proximity to the faculty and staff and their keeping me
aware of exactly what it was I was administering. My door was always open and
with good reason. There was no way I could even approach effectiveness without
constant contact with clinicians, researchers and support staff. How could we
know what they needed in service if we couldn’t hear what they had to say—in

         I suggest that the leadership of MD Anderson retreat from
the making of silly videos and get everyone back obeying masking and social
distancing, but interacting to the safest extent possible. Meetings can take
place while mitigation is adhered to. You just may need to meet in a larger
room with more microphones. Zoom is no substitute for in person meetings with
magic markers. Lab research must get back up and, even more importantly,
clinical research must go full bore. Clinical research is the great
differentiator of MD Anderson from other cancer care providers. The full slate
of trials must be available as soon as possible.

         It’s just great that IS has the ability to track your
address down no matter where in the world you go to do your work remotely. I
get the fact that the administration wants to be coronavirus-free to the extent
possible. We all do. But between now and the advent of an effective coronavirus
vaccine, MD Anderson needs to function and to do so at its address on Holcombe.    

         We may think we are through with the virus, but the virus is
not through with us. Therefore we must learn to live with it, but MD Anderson
also must fulfill its full mission menu. If where you go first matters most and
that address is 1515 Holcombe, the full roster of services must be available.

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