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Health Leadership P9

Well, you know, we can poo poo that because we’re from Western science, but they’ve been doing it for like five thousand years in China. I saw a video tape where a guy had open heart surgery without anesthesia. No anesthesia, open heart surgery where you cut your chest open with a saw and spread it and operate on your heart by cutting a vein out of your leg and sewing it to your heart. That’s what they did without anesthesia, just using acupuncture needles. And he’s going, “Hey, how’s it going?” He’s talking to them the whole time. So what we know in our dimension is “Put me to sleep, Doc. Wake me up when you’re done.” Okay? That’s our flea box.

There’s a different flea box out there. So these people were doing spiritual touch, and I don’t know if it was nuts, and I didn’t care, because you know what? I had patients come to me and they’d say, “It changed everything. I just feel so much better now, and I feel good,” and I’m thinking, “I don’t care if it clicked a switch in your brain that made you feel better and it was a placebo.” You know, I don’t care. I don’t care as long as you feel better and you’re out of here, that’s all I care about. Well, I went away for a conference, and while I was gone, the medical staff got together, and they banned spiritual touch. It was banned in the hospital.

We’re the only hospital in the United States where spiritual touch was banned. They don’t touch. It was banned. Now, what was really going on? Do you have any idea what was really going on? It had nothing to do with spiritual touch. It had to do with drawing a line in the sand. It had to do with power. It had to do with control. You know, these were the bulls who stood on top of the hill every day and picked out their cows. They were the bullies. They were the people who were running the place, and all of a sudden, there’s a new sheriff in town. And the new sheriff said, “Well, we’re going to try this, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this,” and it was change, and it was different from what they experienced, and it was not where they wanted to be in their own mind, because their mind saw [inaudible] county border, Windber border, [inaudible], Somerset county border, [inaudible] Pennsylvania border.

All those limitations were in their mind because they were trained that way. Then we got a call from – was it Ray Streets was the old senior one? Was it Ray, also? Ray Streets, and they were going to picket the hospital. He was going to get all the Baptists in the area and they were going to picket the hospital. I said, “Ray, why?” He said, “Because you’re stealing people’s souls away with Eastern religions.” I said, “How?” He said, “You’re doing yoga.” I said, “Well, we’re not talking about Eastern religion. It’s meditation. It’s just meditation. I don’t care if they bring rosary beads, I don’t care if they say Baptist prayers, I don’t care what they say. I don’t care if they go [inaudible]. I don’t care. I’m not stealing their souls.” So that was a big negotiation back and forth, and we changed it to stress management instead of Eastern yoga. You tracking me here?

This is kind of funny now, isn’t it? It wasn’t so damn funny fourteen years ago. Could you imagine? Me having the entire Baptist community walking around the hospital with signs. You’re stealing souls. You know? Not good. And the last thing was we introduced that heart disease program. I used to have one doctor that would walk into the heart disease program meetings eating pork rinds and told everybody to go get their bacon. Go on the Atkins diet. Don’t go on the [inaudible] diet. Go on the high fat diet. You’ll do better. So change. Resistance to change. Blocking change. Twenty-four hour visiting we already talked about. So for each one of these there was a significant push back. Each one of them. I had three doctors who were very, very, very, very ultra-conservative religious who felt that we shouldn’t have any other symbolism in our chapel that represented anything except Christianity.

Well, there were Jewish people that came to our hospital, and in the research institute, now I had Muslims that came to our hospital, and I had [inaudible], and I had Hindus. It was really funny, because when I built the research institute, one of the things that I thought would be really symbolic was that every one of the PhD’s offices looked out into the church below with the crosses.  I had no Christians. Didn’t move them very much. So here I had all these people who were not Christian. You know, we’re talking, like, there’s a billion Muslims. You know?

I had all these people that weren’t Christian, and so I wanted them to have a place where they could go and be with their God, as well. Whomever. I remember one Chinese scientist saying to me that her god was a female god that she prayed to, and that she had a vision from her god that she would come to a little town somewhere in the United States and work for a former teacher. And that’s how she ended up at Windber Medical Center. Well, how could I question that? I mean, I don’t really know how that happened, or care. She came to work for us. So it’s like these doctors said no. No, you can’t have religious diversity. And the first thing that happened when I left Windber is they went in, they removed everything that was there that wasn’t on the crucifix.

So you start to look at that and say where’s the flea box here, you know? Yeah, we can be compassionate about our beliefs, and I’m not questioning your Christianity, I’m not questioning any of those things, but you have to recognize the fact that there are people who aren’t you. There are people who don’t have your same beliefs. I remember I was teaching at Garfield Junior High School. They had just closed down Joe Johns, which was a highly African American attendance school, and they moved them into Garfield Junior High School at the time, and Garfield Junior High School was an Eastern European stronghold. You know, the children of the ethnic steel workers and coal miners that moved in, and when those two groups got together, it was just explosive.

We had fights every day. And I remember being on hall patrol one day before school actually started and seeing hundreds of kids running, and I’m thinking, “This is not good.” It was like a quarter after seven in the morning. I go outside, and literally outside in front of me are about six hundred students, and it’s African American kids and Eastern European kids, and they had run through the years around Garfield, and they had clothes poles, and they had stones, and they were ready to kill each other. And all of the sudden, this car pulled up, and this African American gentlemen jumped out, and he was stocky. He was about, probably five six, but really ripped.

He looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger. And he ran into the middle of this crowd, and within five seconds he had disarmed it by his voice and his mannerisms, and it dispersed, and my life was saved. And they went back into the school, and I went up to this guy, and I said, “How did you do that?” He said, “I’m a prison guard at a juvenile facility in California and I was here visiting my relatives.” And so the principal hired him to teach about diversity for a two or three lecture series, and he taught it – let’s just say it would have been X rated, but it was amazing because, you know, he said to these teachers – a lot of them were bigots and prejudiced people – he said to them, he said, “Let me ask you a question. How many of you have ever gone more than thirty-five miles an hour in a thirty-five miles an hour?”

He said, “You’re breaking the law. That is against the law.” And then he gave an example of something that was typical in the African American community, because, again, the typical African American family did not have a father. It was like seventy percent were without a father living in the home, so the oldest daughter typically became the mom, because the mom had to go work three part time jobs to provide enough for the family, and he gave an example of something that they might to do that in our mind’s eye was completely against the law.

But our driving more than thirty-five in a thirty-five mile zone was, eh, a little gray. And he gave us these descriptions of our impression of this is where we think we should be, these are our borders, these are our lines, this is, you know, there’s a woman, in the book Change or Die, there’s a woman, a little four foot eleven woman, psychologist, from San Francisco that realized that the state was going bankrupt because of all their jails, and interestingly enough, the prison guard unionist fighting closing and changing the laws. It’s a three strike law and whatever, so there’s all these lifers in prison in California forever, and the state is bankrupt, and this woman figured out that one of the reasons of the rate of recidivism is so high after someone has been arrested, that the crime level was so high, is because they’ve never, ever, ever been taught how to act in a middle class world.

They wait for a few more [inaudible] they probably won’t have to worry about it because there won’t be any middle class, but having said that, regardless of your politics, having said that, she then set up a center where the judge said to the person, “Look, you can go to Alcatraz,” or whatever, they don’t go to Alcatraz anymore, “you can go to jail, or you can go to this woman and live in these apartments and work in the stores and the shops and the restaurants that she has put together down there all run by former prisoners, and if you screw up, you’re going to go back to prison. You’re going to go back for life. Or you can work with her.” And what they found was they could retrain these people into what our expectations were so that they could survive in a culture that was not the culture they grew up in. Interesting, right? Yes? Change or die.

So ten percent of the staff was never, ever, ever going to change. They were mean, they were hateful, they were ugly to patients, they were ugly to each other, they were ugly to their families, they were unhappy human beings. And we built into the appraisal methodology and human resources. The first time you are turned in for that, we will talk to you and counsel you and explain to you, and the second time we will give you a couple days to think about not doing it again, and we’ll give you those couple days without pay.

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