Posted by: Knightbird | February 25, 2011

“…if he can do what he did with nothing, what is our excuse?”

Dr. John A. Kenney sounds like a remarkable man. According to his granddaughters, who recorded his story for the program Storycorps, Dr. Kenney helped found the medical clinic at the Tuskegee Institute with Booker T. Washington, them migrated to Newark, NJ where he founded a hospital in a depressed black ward of the city. His story was played on National Public Radio today.

Dr. Kenney borrowed funds to build his hospital, encountered the Great Depression while operating it and couldn’t afford to keep many of his staff. He did double duty, including laundry, surgery and who knows what else. The quote for the title came one of his granddaughters. I liked the quote, so I wanted to bring it to your attention.

My research into the principles that helped establish the Toyota Production include a scarcity of resources and a need to do small runs of product assembly. While Henry Fords Rouge Plant ran continuously with one model, Toyota sold small amounts of their product. The couldn’t do long runs. Finding a solution was necessary to their viability as a company.

I believe we are encountering the same situation in our health care system today. Society is paying for health care for those who cannot afford it and for those who have severe and chronic health issues. Institutions are inefficient and use resources wastefully. Prevention is almost non-existent in public policy discourse. We need to do more with almost nothing for those who do not have access to health care. I have been repeating what Dr. Dean Gruner stated in an interview for USA Today where he discussed the impressive improvements achieved by Thedacare. Dr. Dean Gruner projects that the United States could save $400 Billion in Medicare costs if all hospitals achieved similar results. He also projects the potential for an additional savings of $1.3 billion on the non- Medicare side. I believe we have all the money we need to provide outstanding healthcare to all of our citizens. We just need to learn, like Dr. Kenney, what “nothing” is.

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