May 8, 2012
In case you’ve been in a coma, I have two bits of news that I didn’t expect to be so related. First, I’ve been doing a fair bit of talking about health care. Second, I’ve lost a fair amount of weight.
Because of the weight loss, I feel great, I think I must look as great as I feel, and I get to write and brag about it all.
However, I think it’s created some confusion. As I’ve noted before, I occasionally have to deal with people’s hallucinations about things like missing facial hair.
In addition, some folks haven’t exactly leapt to the combination of running, weights and hunger (my cocktail of choice in 2012) as the cause of my appearance. Instead, I worry that they think I’m not OK, or that I’m sick.
I’ve deduced this because people keep asking me questions like, “Are you OK?” or “Are you sick?” Worse, they always ask in a hushed, serious tone that creates a surprising amount of worry for the listener.
My response is always the same: I’m OK. I’m not sick. I feel great. I’m working hard, eating right and probably healthier than they’ve ever seen me. And their response is always the same too: they immediately change course and say, “Man, you look great.”
Let’s face it: there are only a couple of ways to look at that.
The first is to assume that they aren’t exactly telling the truth, or that they’ve changed their appraisal only because they’ve heard my explanation. In other words, I stop looking like a sick person only when they’re reassured that I’m not a sick person.
That’s not terribly reassuring. But it is better than the other explanation:
That I look great for someone they thought was sick.
I also wanted to make sure you saw this great editorial in the American-Statesman over the weekend on the vote. The editorial makes three essential points: first, we’ve come a very long way, and after years of talk, we’re finally on the cusp of realizing this dream that so many in the community have shared.
Second, and importantly, there’s more work to do.
Third, and most importantly, we each win in some way when we achieve this. There are so many benefits to getting a medical school, 21st Century teaching hospital, uniquely Austin health clinics and the other great assets a city gets when it becomes a modern health center.
The Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, for instance, has been working and fighting for a much-needed medical school for decades. That region knows, too well, that building a medical school generally has been a win-lose proposition in the Capitol. With limited money in the budget, one region often had to lose for another region to win such a valuable asset.
But now, there’s no state money and little hope for more in the future. Win-lose has become lose-lose, and every region that wants a medical school must follow a new path to building one.
I really believe that the playbook we’ve developed here in Austin – one that relies on innovative public-private partnerships, the coordination of resources, and a ton of creativity and hard work – is the only way for Austin or any other Texas region to get where we need to go in this new era.
I’m not the only one. This editorial from the Monitor in South Texas demonstrates how profoundly the game has changed.
Yes, it’s going to take time and significant local commitment to build a medical school. But it’s now within our power to create these resources without waiting for a legislature that hasn’t helped us in the past and isn’t likely to do so in the future.
That’s why the UT Regents’ vote last week marks such a huge shift. As the Statesman editorial (which, again, you really should read) said, “For years, the idea of building a medical school in Austin was no more than smoke: You could see it, but you couldn’t hold it.”
Well, it’s a lot more than smoke now. The UT System has committed up to $30 million a year. The Seton Healthcare Family has tentatively pledged $250 million for a new teaching hospital. Seton and Central Health (the Travis County health care district) have launched a landmark agreement that will change how health care is delivered in Austin.
These are concrete steps. We’re succeeding. This is going to happen.
And we aren’t in this alone. All of these partners are stepping forward. The community is coming together.
It’s up to us to finish the job. We all will win when we do.