Help­ing heal­ing

RichardHart froma US non­profit has in­vested his time and ex­per­tise in a Chi­nese hos­pi­tal, Liu Xian­grui re­ports.

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at li­ux­i­an­grui@chi­

Richard Hart, pres­i­dent of a Cal­i­for­nia-based re­li­gious non­profit, is help­ing to run the Sir Run Run Shaw Hos­pi­tal in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

When Richard Hart, an ex­pert in health­care man­age - ment from the United States, is asked about his China con­nec­tion, he starts from the be­gin­ning.

Hart, 71, is proud that his or­ga­ni­za­tion has been as­so­ci­ated with China’s health en­deav­ors for more than 100 years. He is the pres­i­dent of Loma Linda Univer­sity Health, a Cal­i­for­nia-based re­li­gious non­profit that has a num­ber of af­fil­i­ates such as Loma Linda Univer­sity and Loma Linda Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

The ear­li­est grad­u­ates from his univer­sity came to work in China in 1914, Hart tells China Daily.

Among them was Harry Miller, who later came to be known as the “China doc­tor” be­cause he es­tab­lished 10 hos­pi­tals in the coun­try and used soy milk to treat mal­nu­tri­tion in chil­dren.

Hart’s first per­sonal in­volve­ment with Chi­nese health­care was in the late 1970s as dean of the univer­sity’s public health school. He came to Beijing sev­eral times for a project that was be­ing car­ried out be­tween his univer­sity and the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s health ad­min­is­tra­tion, in a bid to help with nu­tri­tion cam­paigns.

His univer­sity car­ried out more projects in China af­ter that.

In the late 1980s, Run Run Shaw, a well-known busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist from Hong Kong, of­fered to pro­vide money to the local gov­ern­ment of East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince to build a hos­pi­tal in Hangzhou, the city where he grew up. Shaw made the de­ci­sion be­cause his mother had re­ceived treat­ment from Miller years ear­lier.

“When they came to Loma Linda and asked whether we’d be will­ing to as­sist, we agreed,” Hart re­calls.

Since then, Hart’s or­ga­ni­za­tion has played an im­por­tant role in the man­age­ment and train­ing of staff at Hangzhou’s Sir Run Run Shaw Hos­pi­tal, which fi­nally opened in 1994. It was quickly ex­panded into a re­search-ori­ented gen­eral hos­pi­tal. It was among the coun­try’s ear­li­est hos­pi­tals to in­tro­duce some ad­vanced prac­tices such as min­i­mally in­va­sive surg­eries that help pa­tients to heal faster and reduce costs.

As the chair­man of the board of this hos­pi­tal, Hart vis­its it at least once a year. He holds reg­u­lar meet­ings with his univer­sity’s de­part­ment­that­man­ages its in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion pro­grams. The univer­sity has ac­tively par­tic­i­pated in thenur­tur­ing of ta­lent. About 1,000 doc­tors, nurses, ad­min­is­tra­tors from Loma Linda have vis­ited theHangzhouhos­pi­tal over the years.

Around 300 staff mem­bers from the hos­pi­tal have been trained at Loma Linda, too.

“There is a huge ex­change of per­son­nel be­tween our two in­sti­tu­tions,” saysHart.

He even ini­ti­ated a spe­cial hands-on pro­gram that al­lowed physi­cians from the hos­pi­tal to work along­side doc­tors in the US.

Be­sides in­tro­duc­ing clin­i­cal skills and best prac­tices, Hart and his univer­sity have of­fered the hos­pi­tal op­por­tu­nity to im­prove its med­i­cal care through the shar­ing of ideas and cul­ture, ac­cord­ing to Zhan Yilei, as­sis­tant direc­tor of the hos­pi­tal’s Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Tra­di­tion­ally a doc­tor’s work is done as long as she or he has treated the dis­ease well. But that’s not enough and things like pri­vacy in the wards or fol­low-up ser­vices for pa­tients are im­por­tant as well, Zhan says.

“Good health is not just a mat­ter of heal­ing in­fec­tion or do­ing surgery,” saysHart. “It is be­ing com­fort­able and healthy in all as­pects of life — phys­i­cally and men­tally. Our mis­sion is to make a man whole.

“It’sprob­a­blythe­great­est legacy Loma Linda has pro­vided to it (theHangzhou hos­pi­tal).”

Decades of part­ner­ship with Chi­nese med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions has al­lowed Hart to gain a deep un­der­stand­ing about China’s health­care sys­tem. He be­lieves the is­sue of cost ef­fec­tive­ness is go­ing to be a chal­lenge for China even in the fu­ture.

“There are many newhos­pi­tals com­ing up. But the hos­pi­tals are very ex­pen­sive places. It (health­care sys­tem) is go­ing to crash if we don’t fig­ure out who is go­ing to pay for that,” he says.

He thinks the gov­ern­ment will de­velop a proper health in­sur­ance sys­tem even­tu­ally and fig­ure out how to make med­i­cal care more cost-ef­fec­tive and ac­cu­rate to curb prob­lems in­clud­ing ex­ces­sive treat­ment.

Hart, who got his doc­tor’s de­gree in the 1970s, has had a long ca­reer in med­i­cal ser­vices, man­age­ment and ed­u­ca­tion, and is still on the go. He has worked in many coun­tries and served dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing as a se­nior con­sul­tant to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

He says the usual chal­lenges in health­care sys­tems he has en­coun­tered else­where are in­suf­fi­cient re­sources and weak fi­nances.

One of the big­gest ad­van­tages for Chi­nese health­care has been the coun­try’s econ­omy, he says. “It’s not been so much of a prob­lem here.

“My big­gest con­cern is to give the doc­tors the sup­port sys­tem they need, be­cause doc­tors can’t do it all. Forthem to be ef­fec­tive, you need a team around them.”

Rec­og­nized for his ded­i­ca­tion to China’s med­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, Hart re­ceived the Friend­ship Award, the high­est honor given by Chi­nese gov­ern­ment to for­eign­ers who have made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the coun­try’s so­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, in late Septem­ber.

Ac­cord­ing to Hart, his univer­sity and theHangzhou hos­pi­tal are look­ing to deepen col­lab­o­ra­tion in the fu­ture, in­clud­ing a plan to jointly start a col­lege of health sci­ences in China. The new school will look into fu­ture needs for dis­ci­plines that have yet to be de­vel­oped in China— nurs­ery spe­cial­ists and den­tal hy­gien­ists to name a few. TheFugi­tive


US health­care ex­pert Richard Hart has been ded­i­cated to sup­port­ing China’s health­care sys­tem for decades.


Bari­tone Shen Yang (left) re­hearses for the mu­si­cal as part of the on­go­ing Beijing Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

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