Two had visions of a better world
Hall of Fame celebrates Sen. Edward Kennedy and Austin Ross
In an age in which selfishness and belligerence have been successfully marketed as virtues and compassion and cooperation as vices, it’s nice to see that some people hold different priorities.
This year, Modern Healthcare’s Health Care Hall of Fame celebrates the lives of two very different people who pursued a common goal of improving the health and welfare of their fellow citizens. Sen. Edward Kennedy and Austin Ross also shared the role of pragmatic dreamer, envisioning an improved existence for others and coaxing cooperation from skeptics toward that goal.
Their styles often diverged. Ross, according to those who know him, led in a quiet, subtle manner. Through persuasion and respect for others, including those who opposed him, he managed to build Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center into a regional powerhouse for providing healthcare.
And his efforts didn’t end there. He served on the boards of the Medical Group Management Association and the American College of Healthcare Executives. He took up a second career as teacher and mentor to a new generation of healthcare administrators.
While Ross maintained a low profile, Kennedy couldn’t help but be visible. He became Congress’ champion for healthcare, using legislative acumen to pursue expanded coverage and comprehensive reform until his final days. Kennedy could breathe fire in speeches when pushing his agenda. But he also commanded respect in the Senate and, like Ross, developed a talent for building alliances. This skill helped Kennedy get legislation passed. Many observers, Republican and Democratic, have said Kennedy’s continued presence and legendary perseverance might have resulted in a bipartisan compromise on healthcare reform.
Kennedy at the end of a failed presidential campaign may have summed up the attitude of all people like him and Ross, people with a vision of a better world and the skill to attain it: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
The profiles of the 2010 Hall of Fame winners were written by Modern Healthcare Washington reporter Jennifer Lubell and by Ed Finkel, a longtime freelance contributor to the magazine. Lubell can be reached via e-mail at jlubell@mod ernhealthcare. com, and Finkel can be contacted at edfinkel @earthlink.net.