Archive for the ‘Physicians’ Category

Physician, Healer, Teacher, and Mentor

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Dr. Alva Whitehead

Those are all words that come to mind when one thinks about Dr. Alva Whitehead. In my twenty-nine years of serving with him at McLeod, Dr. Alva Whitehead has been a gifted advisor, teacher and mentor.

He joined the McLeod Medical Staff in June of 1976 and served as Chief of Staff from 1998 to 1999. He served as McLeod Vice President of Medical Staff Services from 2001 to 2010. In this physician leadership role, he strengthened the foundation built by Dr. Rick Ervin, our first Vice President of Medical Staff Services as McLeod sought to have additional physician input on the leadership team in 1987. Dr. Alva Whitehead continues to serve as Medical Advisor for McLeod Health.

Providing counsel and support to the McLeod Health Board and leadership teams, Dr. Whitehead has been a strong advocate for patients and families, physicians and hospital staff. As he transitions in his service to others, I thought I would share with you his thoughts about the changes in medicine and health care.

RC: Your father was a physician in Lake City, and your son is a Pediatrician in Florence, what is important about the professional calling to be a physician?

AW: Unfortunately, it seems the whole concept of “calling” has been relegated to the religious sphere. It is unfortunate because “calling” or “vocation” gives a greater meaning to our work. When you consider that to answer a “call” is to really answer four questions: Called from something, Called to something, Called for something, Called by someone. We need to rehabilitate the necessity of answering those questions in our life and work. To realize that you have
been called into whatever work you do and answered that call allows one a greater sense of peace and purpose.

RC: The intensity of the vocational life of physician and medical caregiver is great. How best can we achieve balance in our work and family?

AW: Balance can only be obtained by becoming a “human being”…. So many of us become a “human having”. Some believe happiness is achieved in having more and more. It actually leads to more unhappiness. Others find contentment in “being” – - being present with their family, being present with their patients, and being present with themselves. The greatest mistake I see physicians and their families make is in “frugal fatigue” which leads to great debt, more work, less family time, more unhappiness, more resentment, acquiring more things in an attempt to become happy which leads to a downward spiral of not just “being”. To have or to be, that is the question.

RC: During your tenure as Vice President of Medical Services, McLeod received recognition as a state and national leader in quality and safety. Our medical staff has been engaged in leading that effort. What are your thoughts about Physician Engagement in the modern quality movement ongoing in healthcare?

AW: I firmly believe people want to be a part of some worthy cause greater than themselves. McLeod is providing that opportunity and physicians have embraced that challenge with varying degrees of commitment. One of my favorite quotes is from Bennett Sims:

Visions are never justified by their plausibility. The human spirit goes for great dreams, not because they are plausible, but because they are irresistible.

We are developing irresistible opportunities here.

RC: What are you reading and what do you recommend for the summer?

AW: Over the years, I have had to pace my reading and not become too obsessed with “escape” reading. I am currently reading several books: for work, I am reading “Leadership and Medicine” by Dr. Floyd Loop from the Cleveland Clinic. For fun, I am re-reading “Great Souls: Six Who Changed a Century” by David Aikman. It is a series of six short biographies. Also I am reading two books by Neil Postman, “Amusing ourselves to death” and “Technopoly”. For escape, I will read “Beach Music” and “South of Broad” by Pat Conroy. To pick one from the group that is a must read, it is “Great Souls” – - phenomenal people who helped shape a century!

We look forward to working with Dr. Whitehead as Medical Advisor for McLeod Health. We appreciate your leadership.


McLeod Physician Leaders Support the Medical Staff and Organization

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

On Monday evening I attended the first Medical Staff meeting of 2010 for McLeod Regional Medical Center.  It was the first meeting for Dr. Bill Boulware to preside as the new Chief of Staff.  Serving with him for two years, 2010 and 2011, are Dr. Dale Lusk as Vice Chief, and Dr. Andy Rhea, as Secretary.  We deeply appreciate the time our physician leaders give toward supporting the medical staff and the organization.  My observation, in the years I have been with McLeod, is that we have been blessed with good, strong medical staff leadership.  I believe these leaders will continue that tradition of excellence.

Dr. Andrew Rhea, Dr. Dale Lusk, and Dr. William Boulware

Dr. Andrew Rhea, Dr. Dale Lusk, and Dr. William Boulware

Since you may not be aware of the work that goes on at the medical staff level, let me give you a glimpse into Monday night’s meeting.

At five o’clock on Monday afternoon, the Medical Executive Committee (MEC) met in the Board Room to hear committee and department reports. The MEC also had a discussion on medication reconciliation and medical record completion.  Medication Reconciliation is the process of reviewing all of the medications a patient is taking upon admission to the hospital, when they are transferred within the hospital, as well as when they are discharged home. Since a patient’s medications may change many times during a single hospitalization, the reconciliation process makes it safer for the patient by helping to prevent unintended medication changes and by providing a current list of medications for the patient at discharge.

On Monday night, the physician leaders were considering utilization of the computer system to electronically perform medication reconciliation. This electronic review process allows the physician to review and continue a patient’s medications from home, change or order new medications and decide which medications the patient should take once they are discharged. Electronic prescriptions and a current medication list are also available for the patient at discharge.  A successful pilot project has occurred at McLeod Dillon and another is being planned for McLeod Darlington.  The medical staff in Florence will monitor the results of this second pilot project and make recommendations about the system’s use in Florence.

The Medical Executive Committee adjourned the meeting in order to join the full medical staff meeting which was underway in the McLeod Pavilion Auditorium. The full medical staff was briefed on the main points of discussion in the MEC meeting.  The minutes were reviewed by Dr. Andy Rhea.   For the medical staff program on Monday night, Dr. Boulware introduced Marie Segars, Sr. Vice President and Administrator for McLeod Regional Medical Center.  Marie presented an update on the master facility plan for the Florence campus, highlighting the immediate plans for 2010.   Since 2007, several teams in cardiology, cancer have been working on needs for the McLeod campus and the results of this research were presented by Marie to the medical staff.  In addition to power point slides on the proposed facility changes that will take place over the next several years, the room was full of models and blueprints.  Physicians had the opportunity to ask questions and walk around the auditorium to see the models and plans on display.  The informal discussion revealed several good observations and options to consider for the master facility plan.  The meeting adjourned at 7:10 PM.

These meetings take place each month at all three hospitals.  We appreciate the active leadership of our physicians as we seek to improve services for patients.