Monday, November 2, 2009

Health Symposium RECAP


Hospital administrators, nurses, doctors, attorneys, social workers, nursing instructors, students, and others gathered at the Region 17 Education Service Center on October 16 to participate in a one-day seminar. The Office of Dispute Resolution of Lubbock County hosted the Third Annual Health Symposium, “Clashing Paradigms: A New America – Health Care Reform and Where We Stand,” with a prestigious line-up of speakers from national, state, and local levels.

The goal of the 2009 Health Symposium was to bring information and clarity about health reform to the health and legal communities of West Texas. The Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) focuses on the future through mediations, and because the ODR recognizes that information is vital to understanding the possibilities the future may hold, the Symposium took on an important role.

“Where there is change, and where there is misinformation, there are disputes,” said event coordinator Jessica Kelly of the Office of Dispute Resolution. “In order to help resolve the disputes that will inevitably arise, we felt it was necessary to educate our community with the facts,” she said. She added that the best way to do this was to bring informed speakers from national, state, and local sectors to shed light and bring clarity about reform.

After a welcome from locals Judge Ruben Reyes, Commissioner Patti Jones, Lubbock County Bar President Carolyn Moore, and Dispute Resolution Advisory Board Chair Robert Wilson, the program, moderated by David O’Dell, MD, JD, MBA, MHSM, began.

Corrine Parver, professor and Executive Director for the Health Law and Policy Program on Law and Government at American University Washington College of Law opened with national policy information and current legislative health reform updates.

She was followed by Carla Penny, Chair of the Economic Security Committee of the AARP National Policy Council, who clarified AARP’s
stance on reform and information about what policies AARP would and would not support.

Texas State Representative Garnet Coleman, upon return from Washington DC, opened the state section of the program with information about what transpired in the US House and Senate earlier in the week, emphasizing the role that citizens, especially those in rural communities, play in Texas. He was later interviewed by a local TV station regarding recent policy discussions at the White House.

Stan Strickland of Texas Department of Insurance, Ernie Schmid of Texas Hospital Association, Cathy Harris and Patty Freier of Texas Nurses Association, and Cathy Harris of the Texas School Nurse Organization then brought information about each of their state organizations and associations.

After a laughable lunch presentation from comedian Steve “Nice Guy” Mingolla, discussion resumed with a unique panel hosting representatives from four major Lubbock hospitals and Representative Garnet Coleman. The panel included Greg Bruce, Vice President of UMC Health System, Dr. Yisrael Safeek of Covenant Health System, John W. McGreevy, CEO of Lubbock Heart Hospital, and Dr. Obie Stalcup of Grace Health System.

Attendees posed “thought provoking” questions about insurance, patient accountability, and other concerns. The panel, moderated by Dr. David O’Dell, led to an exciting discussion.

Afternoon presenters Archie Alexander, M.D., J.D., LL.M. and Hans Seitz of Press Ganey discussed consumer reports, red flag issues, and the role that Alternative Dispute Resolution plays in representing clients in this new environment.
The event closed with a clarifying view of what the future may hold, presented by moderator O’Dell, who, according to attendees, gave a great wrap-up of the entire program. “The closing session was excellent,” said one participant. “I’m glad I was given the opportunity to attend.”

Months of planning coupled with esteemed speakers contributed to a successful Third Annual Health Symposium. The seminar brought information and clarity without getting too political, according to participant feedback.

“I was afraid it would get political and was relieved that it didn’t,” said one attendee. “If all the discussion were only this reasonable!” he said.

Planning is already in motion for next year’s Fourth Annual Health Symposium, which will take place in October 2010, according to the Office of Dispute Resolution.