I often paint at medical conferences in the back of ballrooms or on the exhibition floor. When I was painting at the HISA conference in Australia, a lovely woman came over to my easel. She looked at my work and noticed I was painting in the Cerner booth. She told me she had a story she wanted share with me about a Cerner conference she attended many years before. That story was so powerful I asked if I could paint it on her jacket so she could join The Walking Gallery. She said yes.
This is “The Right Thing” a jacket for Lissa.
On September 11th, 2001 Lissa was at a Cerner health conference in Kansas City entitled “Crossing the Chasm.” It was a typical conference day and sessions began early. Doctors and nurses from all over the US were there. As the morning progressed word spread through the room that something horrible had happened in New York. Caregivers from the New York area began to call airlines trying to fly back to help. Quickly they and the folks at Cerner found out all flights were grounded.
Then the leadership at Cerner contacted a bus company and chartered buses to drive attendees back to New York. They announced that the buses would be there soon and anyone who wanted to get back could return home in this fashion.
Next they must decide what to do. The room was full of attendees and there were speakers prepared to speak; yet at the same moment tragedy was unfolding. Cerner decided the conference must continue so they set up a screen showing the Twin Towers as speakers spoke of crossing the quality chasm.
Can you imagine that? Right beside a speaker addressing the future of medicine and the chasm in care, a building burned and lives were extinguished in real time. This was such a powerful moment. This is the heart of the matter. When we talk of death at medical conferences it is often hidden behind statistics and bar charts and does not have the visceral impact of life destroyed before our very eyes.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of hearing Clay Patterson from Cerner speak as part of a vender panel at HHS. He did not tell us about the newest module available on a Cerner system. He told us about the challenging care and poor communication his family experienced before his grandmother’s death.
In less than two weeks Cerner will again host a conference in Kansas City in September. It will be the Partnership with Patients Summit. We will meet there and discuss the chasm of care with doctors, venders, nurses and patients. And I hope to see some of you there. I hope to hold you in my arms and remember all of those we have lost.
People have asked me, “How did you get Cerner to host this?” I responded, “I asked and they said yes.” It was the right thing to do.