Cityview continues its exclusive “Conversations” series this month with Goodwin and Harmon meeting at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital on Clinch Avenue in Downtown Knoxville.
Lynne Harmon: How do you define your role as president and CEO of Children’s Hospital?
Keith Goodwin: It’s not dissimilar to a lot of CEO roles, whether you’re in a hospital or not. My job is to set the tone and the direction, to be the chief cheerleader—and the chief servant. We believe in the concept of servant leadership. This is a community resource—and we’ve been here for 75 years!
LH: What is a recent and major accomplishment of the hospital?
KG: The work we’ve done over the last two years addressing the needs of children born drug-dependent. We had a model for providing care that involved starting babies on a medication regimen that would be finished outside of the hospital. We discharged the newborns and the parents would continue to wean them off of the drugs. After a time, we determined our plan wasn’t working. I can remember talking to our medical staff, and them saying, “We’re going to have to keep them in the hospital and come up with a better way to do this, but don’t worry—it’s only going to be three or four patients a day more than we would otherwise have.” Today I believe we have 29 babies in the hospital who are drug-dependent. We have led the state in developing innovative clinical strategies to treat these children. I’m proud of the staff for their innovations and our ability to elevate the discourse.
LH: Is Children’s doing much in the field of telemedicine?
KG: We do have plans to explore that this year. We’ll do it so that families don’t have to drive so far to receive care. There is also a level of intimidation that we have to acknowledge for a lot of people who don’t live in Knoxville. We’re one of only four comprehensive regional pediatric centers in Tennessee, and one of our jobs is to work with all of the surrounding communities to make sure that they’re as well-prepared as they can be to support the needs of children and families.
LH: How will President Obama’s Affordable Health Care for America Act have an impact on the country?
KG: That’s a big question with a lot of unknowns. If you look globally, I think the intent is to give everybody access to healthcare—and to shift the healthcare delivery system from one that takes care of people who are sick to a system that tries to keep people healthy. The question is: where is the money going to come from? That is a big question, particularly given the budget constraints at the federal and state levels.
LH: What changes do you anticipate in healthcare over the next decade?
KG: We are going to shift to focusing more on health as opposed to focusing more on illness. The economic model has to change, and I think you’ve got to create a different set of incentives for healthcare providers. I hope there is a push towards individual accountability—because I believe we all have to assume greater responsibility for our own health. We cannot just rely on an insurance program or a magic pill to fix our bad behaviors—and a good deal of our adult healthcare disease process is directly attributable to bad behaviors.
LH: So what’s in the works for the 75th anniversary at Children’s?
KG: One thing I’ve learned to appreciate about East Tennessee is: you don’t talk about it, you just do it. We’ll have a dinner with our medical staff and we’ll have a dinner for donors. But we won’t have huge fireworks—because we plan on being here for year 76, year 77, year 78, and on and on!