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Leadership Exchange 2010: Health care here and there

Reginald Washington //September 30, 2010//

Leadership Exchange 2010: Health care here and there

Reginald Washington //September 30, 2010//

Editor’s note: In mid-September, 160 community leaders from Denver traveled to Portland, Ore., for the 2010 Leadership Exchange trip, sponsored by the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation. Over a whirlind three days, executives from business, nonprofit groups and government toured the city and met with some of their counterparts to learn more about the Pacific Northwest city’s success stories and its toughest challenges. The goal was for Denver leaders to bring home new ideas and make connections that can improve the metro Denver region and the state of Colorado. We asked several of the 2010 delegates to share their perspectives on the trip with ColoradoBiz, one of the trip’s sponsors.

The Leadership Exchange (LEX) trips offer a rare environment of collaboration with leaders from other communities that in many respects are similar to Denver. The three most recent trips were to Vancouver, British Columbia; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Portland, Oregon. These locations share with Denver award-winning health care facilities that provide excellent clinical care, research and education.

The LEX experience is designed to explore in-depth issues and solutions that are unique to each metropolitan area. The delegates are afforded an opportunity to discuss how these issues and solutions may apply to Denver and Colorado. At the same time, the representatives from each community have a chance to learn about what issues we face here at home and how we are dealing with those opportunities. Hot topics in the past three years were transportation, employment, trade and health care.

One of the most valuable benefits of being a LEX delegate is the robust amount of background material provided in order to prepare for the trip. This packet of material includes a listing of facilities and resources available. In addition, information is provided on health coverage and services provided. How these services are paid for is also explored, including state-funded plans as well as private insurance. The impact this expense has on business is always of interest and it results in a vigorous discussion. How care is delivered is also an important point. Health outcomes are presented in a side-by-side comparison of not only city-to-city but the state- to-state as well.

The current health care debate and reform has been a catalyst for vigorous discussion. Each community visited has reacted in unique ways and has forged different solutions to meet its needs. These actions are compared with Denver and Colorado and the results are often surprising helpful.

The three cities face very different challenges and have unique health care environments. Vancouver is part of the Canadian health care system. This form of managed care is unique and unlike any found in the United States. We visited the only National Cancer Center in the region and observed how therapy is restricted, yet efficient. The outcomes were impressive. National leaders shared the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian system and we discussed how they may apply to care in the United States and Colorado.

Last year, delegates explored health care in Minneapolis. Minnesota is the home of the Mayo Clinic and is the birthplace of managed care. This trip occurred as the health care reform was at a peak. Several speakers presented facts and figures depicting the strengths and weakness of the Minnesota systems. An added bonus was the knowledge gained from hearing the viewpoint of the impact of these potential reforms on several Fortune 500 companies located in Minneapolis.

This year, the Portland area was the site of the LEX trip. Portland is a very active community that prides itself on healthy eating and physical exercise. It is the home of a large state-supported medical complex, as well as a large private medical community. Oregon is the home of physician-assisted suicide. The state also attempted to limit covered services to those who have a documented benefit, better known as health care rationing. The impact of these initiatives was discussed and their future in health care was explored.

The consistent benefit of any LEX trip remains the acquaintances and connections that are made. Knowledge is obtained and new ideas are born. At the end of the trip, we are all re-energized to face challenges with a fresh outlook and lofty goals that will improve the vitality and health of all who chose Colorado as home.
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