There's a lot of talk these days about people being self-centered and selfish. The philosophy of many seems to be, "Hooray for me and the heck with you."
The five outstanding leaders who will be inducted into this year's Health Care Hall of Fame belie that stereotype. Each has shown what giving to one's fellow man is all about. And in giving, all of them had one thing in common: They not only loved their work, they considered it a privilege to make this a better place for all of us. Here's a brief look at what they've done:
The late Edwin Crosby, M.D., was a longtime executive director of the American Hospital Association from 1954 until his death in 1972 at the age of 63. He also was a founding director of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals and a past chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Hospital.
His great passion was baseball. He loved the New York Yankees, but when he lived in Chicago he frequently took his grandchildren to see the Cubs.
The one attribute that best describes the man was his love of family. At family gatherings and cookouts he often would be found leading his nine grandchildren, all tooting horns, as they paraded to the barn.
Michael Ellis DeBakey, M.D., 87, is world-renowned for his contributions to cardiovascular surgery. In 1964 he performed the first successful coronary artery bypass operation. He credits his parents, Shaker Morris and Raheeja DeBakey, with instilling in him the values of honesty, self-discipline and compassion. These basic tenets have served him well throughout a career in which he developed the heart-lung machine that helped make open-heart surgery possible. DeBakey is a surgeon at Methodist Hospital in Houston, where he is director of the DeBakey Heart Center.
Sister Irene Kraus, 71, has been a dynamic and creative healthcare executive at the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul congregation for 54 years.
John "Jack" Curley, Catholic Health Association president, describes Kraus this way: "She views healthcare as an integration of the spiritual, physical and mental (conditions). She has always expressed a special interest for the poor and underprivileged in society. In her leadership roles, she has acted to make that her preferential option." She was chairman of the American Hospital Association in 1980 and chairman of the Catholic Health Association from 1971 to 1974. She also was founding president of Daughters of Charity National Health System.
Walter McNerney, 70, served with distinction as president of the Blue Cross Association from 1961 to 1978 and merged the organization with the Blue Shield Association in 1978.
Stanley Nelson, former head of the Henry Ford Health System and now a professor at the University of Minnesota graduate program in health administration, said of McNerney: "There's no question that Walter has a superior intellect, but his strongest qualities are his energy and enthusiasm for the tasks he has."
Those qualities came in handy as McNerney headed up the newly combined organizations, which at the time covered some 120 million lives. Today McNerney is the Herman Smith professor of Health Policy at Northwestern University's J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Evanston, Ill.
The late Richard Stull was a healthcare pioneer who specialized in doing everything and doing what he did well.
His 40-year career in healthcare included roles as a hospital administrator, consultant, professor and association executive. He served as vice president of the American College of Healthcare Administrators (now the American College of Healthcare Executives) from 1965 to 1972. From 1972 to 1978 he was the college's president, and under his leadership and drive the college thrived financially and professionally by developing the educational model that still exists today. He received the ACHA's Silver Medal Award in 1977 and the Distinguished Service Award from the American Hospital Association in 1978.
The dedication, service and commitment of these people to their fellow man is indeed an inspiration to all of us. We welcome them to the Hall of Fame.
Charles S. Lauer