"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Turning Bad into Good

This morning, I read Paul Levy's blog (Not Running A Hospital) regarding a new health care task force consisting of hospitals, physicians, employers and payors that has committed to shift 75% of its members to value-based care delivery by 2020. Really? How progressive. Do you think that you have given yourselves enough cushion with five years?  That story is for another day.  The title of Paul's blog was "Marching but where? Moscow, I fear" and the graphic was a depiction of Napoleon's disastrous march on Moscow.   The graphic served as an immediate reminder of a time at WMHS that many could easily want to forget.

A number of years ago during the early stages of the affiliation of Memorial Hospital and Sacred Heart Hospital to form the Western Maryland Health System, we engaged an architectural firm to assist with our master facility plan.  As some will remember, the many scenarios that were created included such things as build a “new” Memorial at Scared Heart, Sacred Heart as an inpatient hospital and Memorial as an outpatient hospital or the division of clinical services between the hospitals, which we ended up with at the end of the day.  The interesting part was during one of his many presentations, our architect presented a depiction of Napoleon's March on Moscow in 1812 to show how we could depict the various factors at work with our project.  Napoleon's March depiction (shown below) graphs the number of troops at each position, their location by date and the temperature at any given time during their march.  This depiction is probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn and our architect tried to use it to describe our project.  After his presentation, I got a closer look at the depiction and I too was enamored with the graph.  However, I pointed out to our architect that while the depiction was powerful, what it was describing was an unmitigated disaster for Napoleon.  He lost over 400,000 men and he was chased out of Russia suffering one of the greatest defeats in history.  This defeat led to Napoleon's downfall as a world leader and began Russia's dominance as a world power.  

At the time, little did I realize as to how accurate that depiction was to our situation that was soon to evolve.  Now, I am not trying to compare Napoleon's defeat to the early years of our affiliation but, quite honestly, the message was there and at the time everyone laughed it off.  Those early years were difficult and challenging; some days were downright horrible.  However, what has become of the Western Maryland Health System has been amazing and would not have happened without those many early challenges.  Unlike Napoleon, it was well worth for us.

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