"So much more to learn"

Continued sharing of best practices discussed by reform participants
So much more to learn
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Cornell ILR-sponsored conversation about health care delivery reform -- where does it go from here?

"It's not a one off, we want it to be ongoing," said ILR Professor Rebecca Givan, who moderated the closing session of the May 11-12 conference.

"A Time for Change: Restructuring America's Health Care Delivery System" drew hundreds of diverse stakeholders – unionists, physicians, academic researchers, policymakers, foundations, labor-management officials and others. They discussed integrating disciplines to improve patient care and lower costs.

"The diverse audience…I very much appreciated hearing from other nations and from around the country," said an attendee representing Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn.

As the event closed in Manhattan, another participant said "We have a lot of doctors and nurses talking to each other."

A registered nurse from Vermont said "It's been really helpful to hear from other unions and hospital who are going through the same things. I think if there is one thing we as different unions should be in is better communication."

A union leader said, "I learned a tremendous amount. Most importantly, I learned that there is so much more to learn."

He said it was important to hear from "CEOS and the intelligentsia" and would like to also include "the housekeepers and the dietary workers" so others in the workplace "can understand we are moving forward." ILR's Givan replied, "We'd love for them to be part of this. I agree, that’s essential."

She continued, "I would encourage everyone to do what we did ...invite more people from more disciplines...share the common ground among stakeholders...keep these connections going and learning...many of you have very tangible things you can share...there are real ways to share best practice."

Another conference participant suggested widening the dimensions of future delivery reform discussions by the group to include fitness. "It's been no secret that fitness contributes to health care, I'd like to see that woven into this look," he said.

Cornell President David J. Skorton opened the conference and remarked on the role of Cornell and ILR in health care reform. "I do think it's a very important time for ILR and Cornell to step up...The world of work," he said, "is always superimposable on health care."

"ILR is very well suited to ask the questions, to listen to others...to develop and test hypotheses and move forward" as the nation grapples with improving the ways health care is delivered, Skorton said.

Successful reform demands listening to each other and to the workers in the midst of delivering care, he said.

"It's very important to listen to front-line workers...they have the knowledge, experience and chance to be responsive" to patients, Skorton said.

Solutions to health care delivery problems cannot be found without collaboration among every sector involved in health care delivery, he said.

As a land grant university, Cornell is ideally suited to facilitate health care reform by blending academic research and day-to-day applicability, Skorton said.

Conference co-sponsors were Cornell's Clinical & Translational Science Center, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, Cornell University Cooperative Extension New York City and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Funders include ILR's Pierce Memorial Fund and Cornell University's Institute for the Social Sciences.

More information about the conference is available at: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/news/Lazeshealthcare_040110.html. Or, contact Steven King at (212) 340-2812 or sk995@cornell.edu.

A video interview with Peter Lazes, director of the Cornell ILR Health Care Transformation Project can be seen at: http://www.cornell.edu/video/index.cfm?VideoID=728.