May 2010 Volume 34 No. 5

By: Geoffrey D. Rubin, VCOS

A Fond Farewell

I had expected that this would be my first column as your Chief of Staff, but intervening circumstances have made that not to be. As many of you know, I will be leaving Stanford in August to become chair of Radiology at the Duke University School of Medicine and Duke Medical Center. This was a very difficult decision, because after 22 years at Stanford, I have come to feel a very strong bond with this truly remarkable Medical Center and its community.

Stanford is an amazing and inspiring place that offers abundant opportunities to those who seek collaboration, innovation, and engagement in the operations of our Medical Center. There has never been a better time to seek out that engagement, and I want to encourage anyone with even the slightest curiosity about how our Medical Center operates to step forward and volunteer to participate in one of our many Medical Staff committees. You’ll learn and influence how a world-class organization provides clinical care during a time of exciting opportunity and uncertainty in healthcare. Your Medical Staff leadership welcomes any and all Medical Staff members to embrace the privilege of guiding the practice of medicine at Stanford now and into the future.

Two years ago, our Medical Staff organization underwent a profound transformation. After years of steady and strong leadership from chiefs of staff who were appointed jointly by the CEO of SHC and the dean of the School of Medicine, the Medical Staff voted to be self-governing. It has been a great privilege for me to work with Bryan Bohman, our CMO Kevin Tabb, Medical Staff Services Director Debra Green, Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs Norman Rizk and phenomenal SHC executive leadership to enhance the engagement and effectiveness of the Medical Staff in assuring safe, high quality medical care for our patients at SHC.

We have accomplished a lot during these past two years. The creation of multidisciplinary professional practice evaluation committees and quality councils have greatly enhanced our ability to conduct peer review within a fair and just culture. Over 95 percent of our privileging documents have been reviewed and revised by a marvelously collaborative Credentialing and Privileging Committee, bringing greater consistency to our practice. Thanks to Bryan’s consistent effort, we have a quality steering committee that is providing a forum where Medical Staff and Quality Department leaders can review and collaborate on quality-related activities in a more thorough and timely manner. Over 80 percent of Medical Staff committees have transitioned to new leadership under new chairs, paving a strong future for our Medical Staff. Many more innovations and enhancements are planned, and I will delight in learning about their implementations from afar.

I am tremendously proud of the culture of self-renewal that our Medical Staff has created. This will assure innovation and fresh introspection by generations of chiefs of staff all striving to build upon the advances of their predecessors. It was with a strong sense of responsibility and pride that I prepared myself to serve you as your second elected chief of staff. That you elected me to this position stands among the greatest honors of my career.

I will miss that opportunity to serve our Medical Staff, but I am comforted by the knowledge that I am leaving the leadership of our physician community in the excellent hands of Bryan for a third year and that Ann Weinacker, a superb clinician and gifted leader, will assume a two-year term as COS in May of 2011. Ann is a dedicated advocate of patient-centered care within the ICUs and throughout the clinical environment. I have supreme confidence in her ability to build upon the excellent work that Bryan has begun.

I have been blessed with a thoroughly invigorating Stanford career that has allowed me to engage in scientific discovery, deliver innovative care to patients, build a cardiovascular imaging service and clinical 3D image processing laboratory, teach the brightest students, residents and fellows, and work side-by-side with deans, department chairs, and SHC executives — leaders of our Medical Center who have all taught me so much about health care beyond radiology. I leave with so many fond memories and a deep appreciation for the Stanford community and the enrichment that our collaboration and friendship have brought to me.

Medical centers and universities are built of bricks and mortar, but they are cold stone edifices without their soul, the dedicated people who devote so much of themselves to create the discoveries, the life-saving therapies, the inspiring thought, and the warmhearted care. I hope that I am able to bring to Duke some measure of the warm collegiality and community that I have experienced at Stanford. I have been overwhelmed by expressions of support and good wishes from many of you. I hope before I leave that I can return them all personally. My family and I will embark on our cross-country odyssey in August. It will be a new adventure for all of us, but one that will be indelibly stamped by the hearts and minds of Stanford Medicine. I thank you all.