Ten years ago this past Sunday, terrorists inspired by Osama Bin Laden flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Another flight crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after its passengers rushed the cockpit to stop the hijackers from crashing into another U.S. building.
By coincidence, I was landing at Reagan Airport in Washington, DC, to attend a meeting at the American Hospital Association just as the first plane was flying into the World Trade Center. As I sat in the cab, listening to the news reports, my cabbie and I saw a plane slowly circling Washington. Both of us commented on how low it was flying, but just assumed he was landing at the airport. A short time later, as we passed by the Pentagon, we saw a huge fireball as that plane crashed into the building.
Needless to say, this was a life changing experience for me, making me appreciate life all the more. Another teaching moment for me was how the country came together as never before, except for Pearl Harbor, and for one brief shining moment, we were single-minded and working together as a country. The lesson not lost on me was how much better the country is when we are working together instead of being splintered.
Of course, a brief decade later, we are as polarized as we were together as a country. Congressional members cannot even talk to each other without getting into elementary recess playground fights. Nothing is getting done and our stature in the world is quickly eroding.
I have been blessed with being the president of an association that has worked together for the past 19 years. As I like to say, we check our guns at the door of the board room and make decisions that are best for ALL Tennessee hospitals and the patients they serve.
We just had another example of that at our recent board meeting. We have spent two years working towards a compromise on variation in TennCare rates, a very divisive and difficult discussion. The board spent three hours working on a compromise. We aren’t there yet, but we are close. If this were congress or even some other states, we would have seen hard and fast positions and nothing would have gotten done.
I so appreciate all of my members and their willingness to talk and compromise.
I only hope we can keep this spirit alive and pray our country will go back to those heady days just after 9/11.
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