November 5, 2015
In order to bring you more of the news you want to read, RightCare Weekly summarizes and interprets three important articles and provides headlines linking to the many other articles and editorials you’ll find interesting. As always, RightCare Weekly presents articles related to moving our healthcare system toward the right care for all patients.
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Kudos to Allan “Chip” Teel, MD, Patrick Lee, MD, and Michael Fine, MD, members of RightCare Alliance Councils, as well as to Lown Institute President Vikas Saini, MD for their interviews in Sunday’s Parade Magazine. In an exclusive piece, titled Are You Getting the Health Care You Deserve, Top Doctors Detail What You Should Expect—Even Demand—from Your Team, the physicians comment on what good healthcare should look like. The piece, months in the making, capped off RightCare Action Week, which took place a week earlier. Parade is the most widely read magazine, distributed in 700 newspapers around the nation, and it boasts a readership of 54.1 million. The RightCare Alliance councils, established less than three months ago, continue to gain traction, recruit members and develop projects to promote the right care.
Abruptly in the middle of October, the New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYPH) announced that it planned to close its family medicine center in less than a year. NYPH-affiliated medical students and staff at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) were surprised by the announcement and dismayed, according to the International Business Times. Samuel Cohen-Tanugi, who was trained at CUMC, wrote on Facebook, “In short, this means that all Family Medicine residents and attendings will be dismissed, student-run clinics like www.CHHMP.org and 3 others that treat the underserved will be shut down, student education in preventative/primary care medicine will be severely affected, and the Washington Heights community of patients’ access to basic medical needs will be extremely limited.” CUMC medical students, residents, faculty, staff, community leaders, and primary care supporters nationwide banded together to protest the center’s closing. Within 36 hours of announcing it would close by June 2016, New York Presbyterian Hospital reversed its decision. While questions remain about the motivation behind the decision, its reversal highlights the importance of primary care and demonstrates the power of community organizing to effect change in healthcare.
As we’ve reported in past editions of Weekly, a major goal of RightCare Action Week was simply to listen to people in our communities and find out what matters to them in healthcare. Unsurprisingly, many participants reported that this was a unique and welcome experience for patients, who often don’t feel heard. Ruth Pennebaker wrote an honest and moving piece in the New York Times about her experience as a cancer survivor, sharing ups and downs and finding camaraderie with cancer support groups. She reflects, “These groups saved my life and my sanity.” A significant body of evidence suggests how common this is, reports Rachel Zimmerman of WBUR. Zimmerman describes a new project at Mass General Hospital (MGH) in Boston “born out of frustration with a medical system that no longer has the time to really listen to patients.” The SharingClinic, a storytelling kiosk, holds and collects recordings from patients, families and friends, doctors, nurses, and more. It already contains more than 100 stories. Annie Brewster, MD, MGH internist, patient, and SharingClinic mastermind, is optimistic that the project might spread to other institutions. Brewster urges, “We need to start thinking more collectively if we truly want to re-humanize medicine.” Another approach might be to restore time to the practice of caring.
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