I’ve been reading How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America. The author is Otis Brawley, the featured speaker at our upcoming Annual Seminar (the morning of May 19 at Monona Terrace).

He writes with credibility as the chief medical and scientific officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society. He tells compelling stories from the trenches as a practicing medical oncologist at Grady Memorial Hospital in downtown Atlanta, a safety net hospital caring for those without insurance and also the largest hospital in the United States.

His messages are compelling, inspiring and motivating. Some excerpts that I highlighted:

Otis BrawleyI have seen enough to conclude that no incident of failure in American medicine should be dismissed as an aberration. Failure is the system, and those of us who are not yet its victims are at high risk of being sucked into its turbines.

From my vantage points, I see that one painfully obvious approach to health care reform has never been tried: No one has tried to make the entire system function rationally, based on science.

It’s possible to provide better care at a lower price. It’s possible to be justly proud of our scientific and technological achievements and provide quality and consistent primary care. It’s possible to have innovation and quality and access and lower costs. There is no need to choose.

If the wreckage of health-care reforms attempted over the past twenty-five years is an indication, change from above will not get the job done. Yet, high-quality health care for all is as much a civil rights issue as is one man, one vote. In health care – as in voting rights – real change will have to come from below, not only from patients, but from all of us as citizens.

I’m excited to hear Dr. Brawley and think we’ll learn and be inspired by his message. I hope you can join us.

Cheryl DeMars

Cheryl DeMars

President & CEO at The Alliance
Cheryl DeMars joined The Alliance in 1992, assuming several roles before becoming CEO in December 2006. Cheryl works with the Board of Directors and senior leadership team to establish the strategic direction of the cooperative.

Cheryl participates in a number of national and regional initiatives that align with The Alliance’s mission of controlling costs, improving quality and engaging individuals in their health. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the board of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality.

Prior to joining The Alliance, Cheryl was a program manager at Meriter Hospital in Madison. She earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Cheryl DeMars