(June 5, 2020) – I've been reflecting a lot this week, which I guess is what you do when you are approaching retirement. These reflections began largely as a result of "attending" my final KHA Board meeting last week. Discussions at this board meeting, like many others, exemplified a highly functioning board comprised of first-rate individuals. We've all read articles about the characteristics of good boards, but in my opinion, those characteristics are always driven by the individuals who serve on that board.
Almost without fail, the KHA Board has been made up of people who are able and willing to remove their individual hospital hats and consider issues from the perspective of others; people who know that a board has to serve as the conscience of an organization; people who recognize the importance of accountability; and perhaps most importantly, people who are excellent listeners. I will be forever grateful to the KHA Board and its individual members for their listening skills and thoughtful leadership.
Like many of you, I've also reflected this week on the drama we have seen playing out in cities across our country, including right here in Kansas, where citizens of all colors have joined together to protest. These protests began in response to a few specific incidents, but let's not kid ourselves that they were the only motivating factors. Other concerns, including widely documented health disparities that have been reaffirmed with COVID-19, have certainly played a part. As a white male sitting in Topeka, Kansas, I can't claim to comprehend the circumstances that fueled these concerns. The pain, however, is obvious.
When our members, who deal with pain every day, ask for resources to help them respond, it's terribly frustrating not to have a good answer. While we do have resources on our website, the best advice I can offer to those members (and to myself, frankly) is to consider the previously mentioned characteristics of good board members: Try to consider issues from the perspective of others and, most importantly, listen. As President George W. Bush said just this week, we see ourselves in a true light when we listen to the voices of those who are hurting. That is something Kansas hospitals do every day.