Future Programs

Posted June 27th, 2011 by Bruce Saunders
Categories: Programs

The public is welcome to our meetings that take place at the Senior Center on the second Wednesday of the month from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. The Senior Center is located at 1180 Pepsi Place in Charlottesville — www.seniorcenterinc.org.

May 14th – General Assembly Report  -  Area delegates and senators.

June 11th – Commonwealth Redistricting Proposals  -  Terry Cooper and Leigh Middleditch:  Can Virginians bend legislators to pass a constitutional amendment ending partisan gerrymandering?

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Past Programs

Past programs are arranged in inverse chronological order.  Speaker bios and links to podcasts are given, with a program summary written by SSV Board member Jim Peterson.

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

Posted April 14th, 2014 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

Ninety-nine percent of injured or orphaned wildlife are due to human actions. What measures should you take when you discover injured or orphaned wildlife? Noted Scottish-American naturalist John Muir wrote, “When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.”

Jessie ColeSince its inception in 2004, the Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary has treated almost 3,000 wild animals, representing 60 species of native birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. It has educated local audiences throughout Central Virginia about the habitats and needs of our native wildlife and provided information on what to do when an injured or orphaned animal is found and who to contact for help.

Wildlife rehabilitators Jesse Cole and Nathou Attingerspoke at our Wednesday, April 9, 2014 meeting. The program was moderated by SSV board member Jim Peterson. In the podcast,  Jesse (pictured here) and Nathou talk about some of the organizations past and future projects. Their slide show can be downloaded here, which will add much to the appreciation of their talk.

Jessie Cole grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, around animals and nature her whole life. Her wonderful parents, who are animal lovers themselves, instilled in her a passion for helping all kinds of wild and domestic animals. That, coupled with her love of nature, led her to Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary (RWS). Jessie has been working at RWS rehabilitating wildlife, training interns and volunteers, and working on public outreach since 2008. She attended The Covenant School after which she continued her education at Christopher Newport University, where she earned a BS in Biology with a minor in Anthropology. When she graduated in 2008, she returned to Charlottesville where she met Nathou Attinger, founder of RWS, and began her apprenticeship under her guidance to earn her wildlife rehabilitator’s license, which took two years to acquire. Jessie says of RWS, “Every day is a reward to be able to help Virginia’s wildlife, and I could not imagine spending my time on earth any other way. I am so lucky to be a part of such a wonderful organization.”

Nathou AttingerNathou Attinger was born in France, and moved to the United States at age 3. Nonhuman animals always fascinated her, and as soon as her family moved to a house with a yard, she started taking care of them. Dogs, cats, turtles, pigeons, raccoons, anything that seems to need her help is scooped up and taken care of in her bedroom. She got her BA in French Literature at UVA, got married and had a daughter. In 1982 she started the Elementary Montessori School of Charlottesville (Mountain Montessori) for her daughter while she was working as the administration head of the Emergency Room at UVA Hospital. Her love of the outdoors won out, however, and she attended Piedmont Virginia Community College at night to learn about landscaping. She then started her own landscaping company. While landscaping, she also attained her wildlife rehabilitator’s license and began to start working with wildlife. She would take baby animals with her while she was landscaping to make sure they could be fed during the day. Finally, in 2004, the Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary was born, and has been growing ever since.

The Community College: Access and Excellence

Posted March 17th, 2014 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

2014-03-12-1-friedmanAt the March 12, 2014 meeting, Dr. Frank Friedman, president of Piedmont Virginia Community College, discussed its mission, enrollment, curriculum, student outcomes, facilities and funding. The program was moderated by SSV Past President Sue Liberman. Listen to the podcast of his comments.

Frank Friedman serves as president of Piedmont Virginia Community College. As president, he provides leadership and management for an institution of 5,500 students, full-time faculty and staff, and a budget of over $24 million. Dr. Friedman has served as a faculty member and an administrator in community colleges since 1977.

Prior to becoming president of PVCC in 1999, he served as executive vice president of Austin Community College in Texas. He has experience as a chief academic officer, chief student services officer, director of institutional research and planning, and as a faculty member in psychology and education. Dr. Friedman has a doctorate in educational psychology and a master’s degree in experimental psychology from Purdue University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Muhlenberg College.

Dr. Friedman has served on national higher education advisory commissions with the American Association of Community Colleges and The College Board. He served six years as a commissioner of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and served three years as the elected Virginia representative to the 13-member Executive Council of the Commission. Among his accomplishments are being named a Phi Beta Kappa scholar, recognition by Who’s Who in American Education and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and receiving the Community Service Award by the Virginia Piedmont Technology Council in 2005.

In Charlottesville, Dr. Friedman is on the Board of Directors of the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development, the Thomas Jefferson Area United Way, the Jefferson School Foundation and the Entrepreneurial Village, and serves as first vice-president of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. His wife, Sue, is President of the Alzheimer’s Association of Central and Western Virginia. They have one son, Alex, a 2009 graduate of the University of Virginia.

Program Summary

The subject of the program presented by Dr. Frank Friedman, president of Piedmont Virginia Community College was, “The Community College:  Access and Excellence.”  Dr. Friedman began by passing out a 10- question quiz about PVCC to everyone in the audience—but more about that later.

Dr. Friedman first provided a context with a brief overview of community colleges in America and then turned his attention to six topics specific to PVCC:  mission; enrollment; curriculum; outcomes for student; facilities; and funding.   The 23 public community colleges in Virginia all opened between 1966 and 1972.  It was a movement in American higher education.  Now in America there are 1,100 community colleges with 7.5 million students enrolled in credit courses and another 5 million in noncredit courses.  There are 180,000 students enrolled in credit courses in Virginia’s community colleges.

There are four parts to PVCC’s mission:  (1) access–a post-secondary education should be available to everyone (gender, age, life-long learning, all educational backgrounds, inexpensive as possible; (2) student success—build in numerous supports to engender success; (3) teaching—not a research institution; small classes, faculty teach—typical load is 15 credit hours (five 3-credit course per semester).  “If you don’t want to spend your life teaching, don’t take the job here.” (4) community–we are here to support the educational needs of our community and especially to link in with the workforce and economic development needs of our community.  For example, PVCC offers a program in viticulture and enology (winemaking) which has enrolled over 400 students; graduates of the program have started 10 wineries and vineyards in the area.

PVCC has experienced a very rapid growth with enrollment expanding from 4,100 in 2006 to 5,600 now–much of this fueled by the recession.  Seventy-five percent of the students are part-time. Only 500 students come directly from high school; 80 percent work; 40 percent are over the age of 25; 1,200 are still in high school in a dual-enrollment program earning college credits at no cost; 50 percent receive financial aid—and when there is talk about cutting back on Pell Grants, just remember that they are the single largest source of financial aid for PVCC students.

Half of the students use PVCC as a steppingstone to a bachelors degree through a transfer program with guaranteed admission as a junior to UVa, Virginia Tech, William and Mary and many other universities and they save $25,000 along the way.

Caregiving: The Unexpected Career

Posted February 15th, 2014 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

How many Alzheimer’s caregivers are there in Virginia? How much does the care-giving role cost the female caregiver? What percent of the median household income for people over 65 in Charlottesville does a year in the nursing home represent? These and many more questions are answered by Dr. Richard Lindsay in his presentation at the February 12th meeting.  Listen to the podcast for the answers. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV President Bob McGrath.

Dr. Richard LindsayRichard W. Lindsay, M. D., Emeritus Professor of Internal Medicine and Family Practice and former head of the Section of Geriatric Medicine, University of Virginia Health Science Center, grew up in Upstate New York, where his father was a family physician. He attended Cornell University and New York Medical College from which he received his M.D. degree and where he was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha. Following an internship at Buffalo General Hospital in Buffalo, NY, Dr. Lindsay practiced briefly with his father in Old Forge, NY, and then completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Virginia Hospital. Following active duty as a Major in the US Army Medical Corps, in 1969 he joined the faculty of the Department of Internal Medicine at UVA.

Dr. Lindsay is a champion skier, plays the trumpet, and loves to fly-fish. He is also recognized for his work in the field of aviation photography. He plays a wicked game of tennis, and is a dyed-in-the-wool fan of the Cavaliers. He has three grown children and two grandchildren.

Program Summary

Dr. Lindsay’s father was a country doctor and his mother had very serious Alzheimer’s disease. Although caregiving is the unexpected career, it is one that can be the most satisfying thing anybody can do. The rewards for caring for a loved one are inestimable, but at the same time it is a very difficult and taxing career. If you’re looking for a job consisting of hard work, bad hours and no pay, then caregiving is the career for you.

By 2050, it is predicted that 82 million citizens will be over the age of 65. In 1900, the average life expectancy for women was 47, but is now over 81, and men are very close. Our goal should be to increase the “health span” where we’re living healthier longer, not just living longer. Currently there are seven people to give care for each person receiving it, but in 2050 the ratio will be down to one in three. The baby boomer bulge is growing older, and every day since January 2008 and for the next 20 years, 10,000 additional persons will be eligible for Medicare and Social Security.

For healthcare in the future you’re going to see a lot of people other than the doctor. The family caregiver must be part of the team and not dictated to but rather be a part of the decision-making process. All of the puzzle pieces must be linked together for the benefit of the patient: hospital, insurance company, family caregiver, primary care doctor, community, home health agencies, all of them to shore up the family caregiver.

Life in the Emerging American Police State

Posted January 15th, 2014 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

John Whitehead is a Charlottesville-based attorney and author who has written, debated, and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law. A prominent leader in the national dialogue on civil liberties and human rights and a formidable champion of the Constitution, Whitehead’s concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him in 1982 to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the defense of civil liberties and human rights.

2014-01-08-2-whiteheadAt the January 8, 2014 meeting, Whitehead explored the many ways in which our freedoms and privacy rights have been eroded in recent years as documented in his new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. Whitehead’s book paints a chilling portrait of a nation in the final stages of transformation into a police state, complete with surveillance cameras, drug-sniffing dogs, SWAT team raids, roadside strip searches, blood draws at DUI checkpoints, mosquito drones, tasers, privatized prisons, GPS tracking devices, zero tolerance policies, over-criminalization, and free speech zones. It also reveals the inner workings of an increasingly pervasive surveillance state, including the NSAs program to track the communications of all Americans and map the daily activities of all people in the United States. As nationally syndicated columnist Nat Hentoff observed about Whitehead: John Whitehead is not only one of the nation’s most consistent and persistent civil libertarians, he is also a remarkably perceptive illustrator of our popular culture, its in-sights and dangers.

The program was moderated by SSV board member Charles Smith.

Annual Meeting of 2013

Posted December 30th, 2013 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

The annual meeting was held on December 11, 2013 at the Branchlands Manor House, where a delicious buffet lunch was served.  The election of officers and directors was held at the meeting. The nominating committee, comprised of John McCauley, chair, and Bill Davis, presented the following slate of nominations for 2014 SSV officers and directors: Sue Liberman, past president; Bob McGrath, president; John McCauley, vice president and program chair; Madison Cummings, secretary; Jim Peterson, treasurer; Terry Cooper, Jeff Gould and Nancy Hunt, directors. Charles Smith and Grace Zisk will continue on the board as they enter the second year of their two-year terms. The slate was elected by acclamation.

Special recognition was given to Tom Boyd, Bill Davis and Jim Perkins, members who have concluded their terms and will not be continuing on the board in 2014. Sue Lieberman was recognized for her leadership during her term as president. Also recognized for their outstanding contributions were Berta Hysel, Betty Vargas and Dan Gould.

Vice President Bob McGrath gave a slide presentation of the year 2013 in review. It was truly a banner year for excellent programs.

Reflections on the Supreme Court

Posted November 17th, 2013 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

Henry J. AbrahamWhat are our most important recent decisions? How would our founding fathers view them? What happens when a new Supreme Court justice needs to be appointed? Can a non-lawyer serve on the Supreme Court?

What differences have the current justices made individually? Or from a gender standpoint, since there are now four women members for the first time in history? Does race make a difference in decisions? Should we have more members of the Supreme Court, as Roosevelt attempted?

These questions were answered at the November 13, 2013 meeting and a recording is available below. The program was moderated by SSV board member Charles Smith.

Henry J. Abraham, James Hart Professor of Government Emeritus at the University of Virginia, graduated from Kenyon College in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, first in his class, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his M.A. in public law and government from Columbia University in 1949, and received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1952, where he began his teaching career. In 1972 Dr. Abraham became a chaired professor in the Department of Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia. In 1983 he was awarded the University’s most prestigious recognition, the Thomas Jefferson Award, and in 1993 he received the First Lifetime Achievement Award of the Organized Section on Law and Courts of the American Political Science Association. He retired from full-time teaching in 1997 after nearly a half-century in the classroom.

Professor Abraham is a leading authority on constitutional law, civil rights and liberties, and the judicial process. A pioneer in comparative judicial studies, he has served as a Fulbright Scholar in Denmark and has lectured throughout the world. The author of 13 books in 48 editions including The Judicial Process: An Introductory Analysis of the Courts of the United States, England and France, 7th ed., and Freedom and the Court: Civil Rights and Liberties in the United States, 8th ed., he continues to research, publish and lecture. His most recent book is Justices, Presidents and Senators: A History of Supreme Court Appointments from Washington to Bush II. In addition, he has published more than one hundred articles, book chapters, essays and monographs. His record of civic and university service is as long as it is distinguished.

Henry and his wife Mildred, a rare books collector and bibliographer, live in Charlottesville. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

Program Summary

Dr. Abraham’s presentation should be heard on podcast to be appreciated, but here is a sampling of the points he addressed.

The courts represent the favorable choice of more Americans by 10-20 percentage points over the other two branches of government.

The constitution includes two very significant concepts with regard to the Supreme Court. First, who is on the court (the members are not elected but rather nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate); and second, their perception of their judicial role, which is the line between judicial activism and judicial restraint. There are phrases in the constitution which explains why the court so frequently seems to be out of balance.

There are four reasons why presidents select people for the judiciary: merit, political and personal friendship, a person’s real politics, and the notion of representativeness. The presidents have done pretty well with selecting members of merit. Only one member has been impeached and he was not convicted; indeed, he was a good jurist but he just had a big mouth. Of the 112 members who have served on the Supreme Court, Dr. Abraham considers only six as failures. He says that 12 are regarded as giants and great justices. The current court is okay!

Religion is one of the representative notions, but the present court is not characteristic. Historically, there have been 92 Protestants, 12 Catholics and eight Jews, of the 112 members. The present court has six Catholics and three Jews. However, religion does not play a major role in their positions on cases.

A typical perception is that there is a great deal of strife on the court. Actually, the strife is embedded in the cases, and when it comes to their personal and social relationships, the justices are all quite friendly and socialize together.

The current nine-judge court is divided four liberals to four conservatives, with Anthony Kennedy, who is basically a conservative, but who likes to be in the middle. Chief Justice John G. Roberts is a conservative. The most conservative member is Samuel A. Alito, although Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are very close. Stephen G. Breyer and all three women, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, are liberals with Justice Ginsberg the most liberal.

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Candidates Forum

Posted October 13th, 2013 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

 

Candidates for the Albemarle Board of Supervisors spoke Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at the Senior Center in Charlottesville. The program was moderated by Bob Gibson. Mr. Gibson is the executive director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. He was introduced by SSV Vice-President and Program Director Bob McGrath.

Albemarle Candidates

Listen to a podcast of the proceedings.

The Candidates

Diantha McKeel (I) (Jack Jouett) served on the School Board for 16 years achieving over $2 million in annual cost reductions, implementing the Goldcard Pass program providing seniors free admission to various events, and increasing the graduation rate, SOL and SAT test scores well above state averages. She supports common ground solutions in education, business and job growth, environmental and cost-efficient government.

 

Phillip Seay (I) (Jack Jouett) will focus on engaging and listening to the concerns of ALL Jouett residents and taking those concerns to work with other Supervisors and County staff with emphasis on ensuring that tax dollars are spent on the goods and services that the County is duty bound to provide: public safety, transportation and pedestrian services, the needs of teachers and students, and concerns of senior citizens.

 

Brad Sheffield (D) (Rio) is the Assistant Director at JAUNT. With 15 years of experience as a transportation and land use planner, he can forge a collaborative effort among the Supervisors, introducing new ideas that create a productive discussion on decisions of growth, transportation, education and infrastructure investment. He believes that decisions made for the County need to leave a legacy for future generations.

 

Rodney Thomas (R) (Rio) is a life-long resident of the area, Rodney attended City schools and graduated from Lane High School in 1962. His career in the printing industry began with The Daily Progress and Worrell Newspapers. He earned an Honorable Discharge from the US Army in 1967. Owner of Charlottesville Press, he was appointed to the Planning Commission and served through 2005 and chaired in 2004. He was elected to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors in 2010.

 

Liz Palmer (D) (Samuel Miller) is a veterinarian, small business owner, mother and citizen activist who has worked on County issues for 15 years. She is currently serving her second term on the board of the Albemarle County Service Authority. She has been deeply involved in local water protection issues and was instrumental in getting the 50 year Community Water Supply Plan approved.

 

Duane Snow (R)  (Samuel Miller) is a native of Charlottesville, Duane is a graduate of Brigham Young University. Married to Rena Snow he has five children and 14 grandchildren. The CEO of Snow’s Garden Center, for 35 years he hosted the longest running radio gardening show in the nation. He is a former PVCC instructor. He has served on the Architectural Review Board, VA State Agricultural Council, Rotary Club (President), BSA and MPO.

 

Cindi Burket (R) (Scottsville) has lived in Albemarle County since 1997. With a B.S. in Law Enforcement and Corrections from Penn State University and a Master’s in Public Administration from George Mason University, she has held leadership positions in several Albemarle County organizations including the Newcomers Club of Greater Charlottesville and the Albemarle County Republican Committee.

Jane Dittmar (D) (Scottsville) holds a UVa Economics degree and launched her business career here in Charlottesville. She co-founded organizations that encourage job creation and support career or college ready high school graduates and for nine years was President of the Chamber of Commerce. As a professional mediator since 2001, Jane trains new mediators and supports mediation in all Albemarle County courts.

 

Charlottesville City Council Candidates Forum

Posted September 12th, 2013 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

The Senior Statesmen of Virginia continue their tradition of showcasing candidates for local office with this, our first in a two part series. On September 11th we heard from all four candidates for Charlottesville City Council. The decision goes to voters this November.

City Council Candidates

Candidates Farruggio, Fenwick, Szakos and Weber speaking at a Senior Statesmen Forum. Local radio host and historian Coy Barefoot moderated the event.

Listen to the discussion here:  

Mike FarruggioMike Farruggio (R) was born in Brooklyn and raised in Freeport, NY, Mike served four years in the USAF. He began his law enforcement career with the NYPD relocating to Charlottesville in 1988 to join the Charlottesville Police Department. He has served in patrol, narcotics, community policing and traffic units and retired as the sergeant of the administrative bureau unit for training, policy, recruiting and accreditation. Mike lives in the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood with his wife and two children, who both attend City public schools. Mike has served on the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association, the Charlottesville Planning Commission, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board as well as others.

Bob FenwickBob Fenwick (D) served in Vietnam as a combat commander with the 4th Infantry Division and graduated from Georgetown University with a BS in Physics. He has taken undergraduate and graduate courses in Civil Engineering and Construction Management at The George Washington University School of Engineering in Washington, D.C. Bob has been a small business owner for 40 years as a construction contractor. His two boys attended Charlottesville Public Schools and are currently serving in the US Army. Both boys have served in Afghanistan. Bob is running for office be-cause he believes the citizens of Charlottesville would benefit from having a voice of experience (business, technical and personal) in important decisions.

Kristin SzakosKristin Szakos (D) is vice mayor of Charlottesville. Among innovations she has introduced are Our Town council meetings, Downtown Ambassadors, the Youth Council and paperless Council meetings. Kristin chairs the regional Jail Board, and sits on numerous boards and commissions. She is vice chair of the National Council on Youth, Education and Families. With a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, Kristin has worked as a reporter, editor, grant writer, administrator and translations editor, and has co-authored two books on community organizing. She and her husband Joe have two daughters, Anna, 23, and Maria, 22, and have fostered four children.

Charles “Buddy” WeberCharles “Buddy” Weber (R) graduated from the University of Virginia in 1968 with a BS degree and a Commission in the United States Navy. He then served his country as a carrier-based fighter pilot for 27 years rising to the rank of Captain and returning to UVA in 1993 as a professor where he also attended Law School. After graduating, he has served the Charlottesville community as a court appointed criminal defense attorney advocating for many clients unable to afford critical legal services. Buddy has worked tirelessly to ensure equal justice for all regard-less of race or economic status.

PACE – All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly

Posted August 23rd, 2013 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care of the Elderly) is a fully integrated interdisciplinary model for the delivery of healthcare to frail elderly adults. At the August 2013 meeting, Dr. Jocelyn Reeder provided an overview of the history of PACE and discussed how it has become a recognized standard of healthcare delivery in our current economic environment. PACE represents the new standard for community-based comprehensive integrated care to the elderly. You can listen to the entire presentation by clicking below.

Dr. Jocelyn ReederDr. Jocelyn (Jo) Reeder PT DPT GCS graduated as a physiotherapist in 1983 from King’s College London. She practiced physiotherapy in a variety of patient care settings in the National Health Service before moving in 1989 to Boston Massachusetts where she worked at Massachusetts General Hospital. After a brief return to England, Jo and her family settled in Charlottesville in 1994. Jo has worked at UVA Medical Center and also in long-term care in Charlottesville. She gained her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2008 from Shenandoah University and was certified as a geriatric clinical specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy in 2009. She has served as the rehabilitation manager for Continuum Home Health Care.

 

 

Escape Fires and Healthcare Leadership

Posted July 9th, 2013 by Bruce Saunders
Categories: Programs

Dr. Pamela RossSome say that health outcomes are not keeping pace with the costs of healthcare while this system is by design, more “disease care” than healthcare and prevention. What can be done about an entrenched healthcare system? Dr. Pamela Ross, a featured physician in the movie documentary Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, gives an inspiring take on lessons learned.  The program was presented on June 12, 2013 and was moderated by SSV President Sue Liberman.

Pamela A. Ross, MD, FACEP, is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Virginia Health System, and founding CEO of Holistic Medical Consultants. She bases her holistic medical principles and practice on the belief that there is an unbreakable connection between the mind, body and spirit.

A native of rural Decatur, Tennessee, and her parent’s oldest child, Dr. Ross’ exceptional perceptive skills and mental capabilities were realized at an early age. By the time she reached the fourth grade, she was engaged in various public speaking opportunities through 4-H Club, the nation’s largest youth development organization. Public speaking was a skill that Dr. Ross evidently mastered early, but it was her mother’s illness that sparked her interest and curiosity in the study of medicine. Determined to aid in her mother’s care, Dr. Ross focused her education and career goals on becoming a physician.

Dr. Ross received her BA in Chemistry from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and her MD from Emory University School of Medicine. Her distinguished career is filled with notable highlights including receiving an invitation from President Barack Obama to be present in the White House Rose Garden when he presented “Doctors for Healthcare Reform” to the nation – an event that galvanized the eventual passage of the Affordable Care Act by the United States Congress. Most recently, she is a featured doctor in Escape Fire: The Fight To Rescue American Healthcare, a 2012 Sundance premiere movie documentary that tackles the pressing issue of a badly broken healthcare system.

In her 16+ year tenure at the University of Virginia Health System, Dr. Ross has worn many hats. She has served as division director of the Pediatric Emergency Department, director of the Child Abuse Program, director of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner’s Program and director of Quality Improvement. Currently, she serves as ambassador for Sisters Conquering Cancer, a local community grass roots cancer survivor-ship organization; chair of the UVA Cancer Center Minority Recruitment Task Force; and a member of the UVA Compassionate Care Initiative, grounded in compassionate action and empathic leadership. She is also the UVA School of Medicine curriculum thread leader for Complimentary and Alternative Methods (CAM.)

Dr. Ross spends her spare time nurturing her own mental, physical and spiritual well being through reading, meditation, laughter, dance and fellowship in various settings with family and friends.

Program Summary

The intriguing topic addressed by Dr. Pamela Ross was entitled, “Escape Fires & Healthcare Leadership: Lessons I’ve Learned.” Dr. Ross is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Virginia Health System, and founding CEO of Holistic Medical Consultants. Two central themes are that we don’t have a health care system in this country–we have a disease management system, and to maintain a continuous dialogue on health care is essential. In her remarks she incorporated perspectives from a family practice doctor, patients, and that of herself, an emergency department doctor. Due to her mother’s illnesses, she decided at 11 years of age to become a doctor. Her experiences in medical school led to her specialty in emergency medicine. Emergency medicine represents the health care safety net and the only specialty mandated by law to provide health care to people regardless of their ability to pay.

During the course of her remarks, Dr. Ross cited five leadership lessons she has learned: (1) follow your gut and your dream; (2) the Serenity Prayer; (3) never judge a designated leader until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes; (4) the mantra “no money, no mission” should be completely reversed to “no mission, no money”; (5) “I returned, and I saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all” (Ecclesiastics chapter 9 verse 11).

After engaging in the full practice of medicine for several years, she noticed trends going on in medicine that made her uncomfortable. Patients were losing trust in their doctors, and that she was just a small part of a huge system that is out of control. Decisions made by administrators, policy makers and insurance companies put more distance between the doctor and patient. She learned in a health care marketing class a three-word answer to her question, and it was “follow the money.” For example with investors in pharmaceuticals, if you’re making profits from disease, then what is the motivation to get you to a point where you don’t have to take a whole bunch of pills? The system doesn’t want you to get completely cured, because if you’re completely cured you have no further need of the system.

The above just barely scratches the surface of the points covered by Dr. Ross. To learn how the concept of “escape fire” fits into this discussion on health care, you can listen to the entire presentation via the podcast link above.