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Posted by Steve Walsh on Sep 25th, 2020 10:46am


Familiar faces. Timely topics. Unprecedented times.

Hundreds of healthcare leaders from across New England tuned into MHA’s Annual Leadership Forum, Healthcare Reimagined. The full-morning online session was broadcast live and featured nationally renowned healthcare thought leaders, health equity and inclusion experts, and a COVID-19 survivor who took us behind the mask of the patient experience. 

The event featured many of the commonwealth’s leading healthcare voices, with opening remarks from Jody White, MHA Board Chair and Lowell General Hospital and Circle Health President & CEO, as well as a video montage of the many ways to reimagine healthcare from members of MHA’s Executive Committee. Governor Charlie Baker also addressed attendees via video message, acknowledging how the healthcare system has stepped up and never closed its doors throughout the pandemic.



"What does it mean to be an American and have healthcare?"

As PBS’ NewsHour White House Correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor has had a front-row seat to the frantic activity on Capitol Hill, all of which is central to the future of healthcare. She provided attendees with a sharp, well-informed picture of the 2020 election and the state of the American public. Alcindor argued that healthcare will be one of the pivotal issues leading into November, specifically noting candidates’ differing views on the prospect of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Dr. Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, founder and Chair of Ariadne Labs and Cynthia and John F. Fish Distinguished Chair in Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, discussed in his keynote address how Massachusetts’ healthcare and scientific communities are making outsize contributions to confronting and ultimately defeating COVID-19. Gawande, one of the nation’s most sought-after healthcare thinkers and speakers, stated, "We didn't just do it here in Massachusetts, we showed the rest of the country how it should be done.”

Gawande also highlighted how the Stockdale Paradox is particularly apt when envisioning defeat of COVID-19: it requires both faith in ultimately prevailing, and strong discipline to face harsh realities about what sacrifices that success might require. Given our success in managing the crisis during the first wave, he explained that providers must continue to focus on bolstering primary care, strengthening telehealth, and facing the racial and educational factors that affect health.



Physician and health reporter Mallika Marshall, M.D.; served as emcee of the forum, as well as moderator for a panel discussion on Health Equity and the Urgency of Now. Panelists Thea James, M.D., from Boston Medical Center; Frank Robinson, PhD, from Baystate Health; and Carl Sciortino from Fenway Health tackled pressing questions about systemic racism in healthcare and health disparities. They held an open conversation about what their organizations were doing to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion. When asked what others in the healthcare space should prioritize, the panel keyed in on the creation of policies that deliberately provide pathways to traditionally marginalized individuals and the use of data to highlight the intersection between race and health outcomes.

Of course, no conversation on healthcare is complete without the voice of the patients. Frank Cutitta, who spent over 100 days in the COVID ICU, chronicled his remarkable story of struggle and recovery. Frank was in a coma for 40 days after contracting the virus and his family faced unthinkable decisions. His harrowing experience did have moments of relief, like when nurses would play Pavarotti and the Beach Boys, or would set up video chats between him and his family. Frank emphasized the importance of the human connection in treating isolated patients, who may feel an acute sense of loneliness while hospitalized.

In program’s the closing moments, MHA president & CEO Steve Walsh reminded attendees that the time for innovative action is now. 

“Healthcare reimagined isn’t about predicting the future. It’s about creating the future.” Walsh said.

A pair of quotes from Abraham Lincoln bookended the day, serving as calls to advance: 

“Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And the actions which speak louder than words.” 

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” 

Check out upcoming MHA Education events here.


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