Davidson recalled an essay written in 1787 by James Madison urging the ratification of the Constitution. The Federalist No. 10 warned of how destructive factions could be to government. It's also the responsibility of hospitals to fight these factions to better represent their communities, Davidson reasoned.
“But Mr. Madison never imagined the breadth and strength of the special interests as we know them today, but the intent of the Founding Fathers was pretty clear,” Davidson says. “I like to say we need to continue to be a very special interest group because we do very special things that others can't do.”
Before being named to head the AHA, Davidson served as president of the Maryland Hospital Association for 22 years. His colleagues there and at the AHA recall Davidson's high expectations for hospitals. And that's shown through his opinions on what hospitals should represent to patients.
“When they show up there, it's caring, there's compassion,” the 75-year-old Davidson says. “We do what we do only for the purpose of curing, and we're an organization that does this in taking care of you with respect that's beyond reproach.”
Many accomplishments marked his career. The AHA's Institute for Diversity in Health Management represents one of Davidson's bigger ones, fueled by his interest in increasing member participation and representation. His successor, current AHA President and CEO Richard Umbdenstock, remembers another.
He's quick to call Davidson one of the founders of the Hospital Quality Alliance, a public-private collaboration that was established in 2002. The organization was instrumental in creation of the Hospital Compare website a year later.
The alliance's mission is to help the public make better medical decisions by releasing data to the public, through Hospital Compare, on the quality of care hospitals provide. Umbdenstock and others view its creation as a victory for transparency and quality improvement.