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Health Leadership P13

My speaking tour was at plain tree hospitals or designated hospitals and it’s a constant challenge because you’re always going to get you really need a certain doctor and he has all the qualifications and she has all the qualifications, but there are good reason why some animals eat their young, and you’re always going to have some mean person that comes in and tries to tear it apart and comes at you and builds power, and I mean, it’s just the nature of that type of organization. Good question, though. Anybody else? Any questions? Think of something. Seriously, like the last four years were so painful to me I can’t even tell you, because your friends may come and your friends may go. Because I mean, it’s such a small area they’re all still here.

I mean, I go to the mall at Christmas and it’s like I get these darts in my neck. And I was nice, and then that was one of the interesting things about it. I think it’s harder to work for a nice boss sometimes. It really is, because I was nice, and so I tried to do this with dignity, but I got rid of forty-four people, and the forty-four people over that twelve year period that I got rid of were pretty much just all the same person, they just had different faces and different bodies. But the personality type was so similar that I finally went to HR and I said, “Look, why can’t we prescreen, why can’t we do a psychological profile exam so we don’t hire that person over and over and over?”

Because there are a lot of people like that person that go into healthcare. And it used to be when you think about when docs went into healthcare, it was purely because they were caregivers, but then healthcare became the medical industrial complex, and it’s big money. I mean, I had guys working for me that made a million dollars a year in Windber for twenty years. It’s big money for some of these people, and when you make a change that in any way impacts their home income, that gets real person. It gets real personal, so there were, I mean, I’m not going to go into all the details, but it was hard. It was very hard. And I was a change agent, and typically a change agent should leave after four or five years, but… Yeah, I probably would. I’d do it smarter, you know?

Would I do it again now though, no. I’m sixty-four years old, I don’t plan to go start another hospital and do it again. What else? What do you think? What was stupid to you here? What’s something that just outrages you, and you’re nuts? Come on, I can take it. What do you think was just completely nuts? You didn’t tell any difference. It was just like any other hospital. Oh, okay. No, don’t say that. Yeah. But see, part of that’s the Hawthorne effect. I mean, if you’re nice to them, they’re nice to you, they’re nice to your patients.

And I think that, not that people aren’t nice and I’m not comparing it, but I think that generally in hospitals, the climate is the military climate. It’s I’m the boss, kiss my feet, you know? And it really works in the military. I have to tell you, I recruited five people out of Walter Reed, and all five of them, it was just a nightmare for me because their culture was so different. One of the ones I recruited used to actually run Walter Reed, and so having a general work view, he was late the first day of work, and I said, “You’re late.” He says, “Yeah.” He says, “I sat in the back seat for twenty minutes before I realized I don’t have a driver anymore.” He was kidding, but it’s true. Anything else? Anybody else? Well, thanks. Yeah.

You know, that was an interesting thing. So there was this young MD by the name of Peebles, and he went to Harvard. Army. Full scholarship. And he went to MD Anderson to get his fellowship training, and we met him and were talking to him that day, and he said, “Yeah, I’ve been working on a breast cancer vaccine.” And I said, “Well what’s the idea?” And he said, “The vaccine identifies which protein is spreading the cancer, and you get this vaccine, and then your body builds up the antibodies so that the gene can still tell it to spread the cancer, but then the protein goes thanks, I pass. I’m not going to do it.” So you build up the antibodies to keep the protein from actually functioning in a way that it normally would, but the gene thinks it did. The gene tells it what to do, it goes yes sir, and then it doesn’t do it.

That’s the basic down to earth concept on it. Now, I don’t know if you’ve heard the latest update, but this was a single peptide vaccine, so it was based on a single protein, and so he said, “I’d like to try this vaccine.” So we set up an immunology center on the campus of [inaudible] hospital only because that’s where the building was available, put about six million dollars into this place, and we began vaccine trials at Walter Reed and in Windber. And it was one of those things where you think “That’s a nice thing for the locals, and hopefully it’ll work.” But understand that the way the trial thing goes is you try it on a couple thousand people, and you try it on ten thousand people, but then the big one is two hundred thousand people, so by the time you get to the two hundred thousand people one, you’d better have a pharmaceutical company that’s going to spend the billion bucks to do that.

So we start the vaccine trials, and all of the sudden, some strange things start to happen. I’m getting calls from the Holiday Inn, and we’re talking, and they’re saying, “Yeah, there’s this woman that flies in here every week from LA for her vaccine,” and I’m going, “What?” And there’s this other woman that’s coming in from Virginia, oh, and Dan Rather’s producer’s wife is coming in, and, you know, they go through this list of people that are flying in to [inaudible] from literally Canada, and we had one woman who came in from the United Arab Emirates. They were coming from [inaudible] to get these vaccines, and the common link from all of them is that most of them worked in breast cancer research labs, and they were tracking what was going on.

And so it was like for the longest time, we were having really, really good results. Now they have come up with multiple peptide vaccines, and this really feeds into the story, because our single peptide guy didn’t want to change because he had everything invested in a single peptide vaccine, and so I think that he will kind of fall out of favor as these multiple peptide vaccines come into play, because there’s three hundred thousand proteins, and who knows what the nuances are of the different proteins? But here was Windber, Pennsylvania giving breast cancer vaccines that were only available at Windber and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. People were flying in from all over the world, and you go, “What? Betty Grable had her thyroid removed here?” So what’s possible, you know? And I think it’s all possible.

Thanks everybody. Thank you very much.

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