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Thursday, December 1, 2011

When I think of, I think of the strength of a chain.  I think of the power inherent in each link and of the smiles of a little boy named Isaac.

When my son Isaac was only three years old his favorite toy was not a toy at all.  It was a chain.  It was a heavy 16-foot-long chain. He would drag it along the floor and pretend it was a boa constrictor.  He loved that “snake.”  He would lift its heavy coils of links and smile in ecstasy.  I suppose some parents would not let their children play with a heavy chain and lift its steel links.  But, I thought that as long as it was supervised play, it was a great type of play and fulfilled Isaac's need for deep pressure.

After all, as a child I too lifted chains.  My father was a junk dealer and he sold many types of chains.  I remember some links that were as big as my fist.  Those chains were so very strong.  I learned a lot about chains.  They were strong but flexible: able to bear great weight.

They were so strong because of the links.  Those beautiful curved zeros of steel would glide out of my hand as I placed them on the flea market stall floor.  One link after another would fall.  First on its edge then on the flat, I remember it as a repeating series of 1's and 0's gliding by like some type of iron-age binary code.   

The links were important in that they made the whole. A great burden could be lifted by the strength of such a chain.

I am inviting you to be part of a chain today, a really important chain.

For the past six months, the team from TMIT (Texas Medical Institute of Technology) and I have been working on a project.  Well, really they have been working on many projects.  They have made films on patient safety, worked on standards, and went to meeting after meeting with thought leaders on better patient care. 

But the one project I have worked with them on is

Six month ago TMIT CEO Chuck Denham, MD, asked me what did I think was the most important thing TMIT could do to improve patient care, safety and advocacy.  I told him we needed a patient speakers bureau.  He and the rest of the team broadened that vision to include speakers from every segment of society who identified with a patient centric view.

Today our dream is a reality.  This is what you will see if you go to

SpeakerLink welcome

And if you click on find a speaker you will see this. 

SpeakerLink  Speakers

If you scroll down you will see more speakers.  You will see more amazing people who have decided to change the world, who refuse to accept phrases like “that is just the way it is.”  You will see mothers who have lost sons and wives who have lost their husbands, you will see people who have lost so much. 

But they have not lost hope.

You will see people who have dedicated their lives to guiding health policy.  Individuals who have devoted years to health information technology and patient safety legislation have profiles on this site. And you will see regular citizens who have no training in rhetoric here as well.  They speak because they must.  They speak because they are brave and are willing stand up and speak out if they can make a difference by sharing their story.

But this site is missing something.  It is missing you.

Register as a speaker.  Speak for those you love.  Speak for the anonymous millions that exist as a cold data set with no emotional impact.  Be a speaker from experience with patients you have helped or as the patient you have become.

Be a speaker for the dead.

But most of all speak.  For your voice is mighty and true.  It swells and fills the auditorium and fills the mind.  You have the power to change things.  You have the power to be part of a chain reaction.

For the hospital boards, the-C suites, the QIO’s, the Physician and Nursing Groups, the Venders and the Patient Communities are all links in a mighty chain of care.  Speakers connect these groups, speakers go from place to place introducing new ideas, different cultures and share the wisdom stored in so many silos of medicine.  You can become the link I know you are; for you have been through the crucible and have come out the other side.  You have been forged into the finest steel: flexible yet strong.

So, here is my request.  Sign up.  Become a speaker.   Change the world.



  1. OK, it was the "Speaker for the dead" bit that got me. I'm in.

  2. Beatifully said, Regina. Your mention of the crucible that forges us was my favorite part. I will speak for the dead with renewed force. And for my children, so that they will not suffer the same.

    Thank you for your role in this; it's one of those vital moves that makes everyone ask, "Why didn't we do this sooner?"

  3. This is probably the most powerful, inspiring calls to useful action that I've seen in a very long time.

    Thanks to people like you, Regina, I finally started telling my story in public this past year. The empowered, engaged patient movement of which you are a key member, has helped me realize the power of speaking up from an emotionally healthier place.

    SpeakerLink looks great. I think I might sign up!! Thank you.

  4. Regina, it is hard to imagine art more powerful and elegant than your writing.

  5. Thank you for leading the wonderful initiative. Honored to be a part of it. Hopeful that more lives will be saved and livelihoods will be fulfilling as a result.