President’s letter: CMS and COPIC’s success borne of Colorado’s “pioneer spirit”

Thursday, January 01, 2015 11:05 AM
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by Tamaan Osbourne-Roberts, MD, President, Colorado Medical Society

Tamaan Osbourne-Roberts, MD

Most folks who have spent even a small amount of time with me know that I am exceptionally – make that remarkably, ridiculously, unapologetically – proud of my identity as a Westerner in general, and a Coloradan in particular. My wife, Camille, and I were married in Estes Park; our engagement photos feature rutting elk, and our wedding photos mountain vistas. Our kids have spent plenty of time at Elitch’s, been to the Brown Palace for tea, and have even made it to Casa Bonita for the obligatory sopapillas. My social media pages are filled with pictures of family time in Vail and Aspen, fourteener summits, and train rides through rocky canyons. And I’m fairly certain that Camille is afraid to have any more out-of-town guests to our home, as I always seem to find an excuse to take them out for a hearty bison steak dinner, complete with Rocky Mountain oysters and gunpowder-flavored whiskey.

But of all the things that make me proud to be a Coloradan (and there are a lot of them), the most remarkable, in my estimation, is what I’ve taken to calling the “pioneer spirit” that we all share: a unique mixture of grit, persistence, resourcefulness and fearlessness born out of life in our version of big sky country. Because no matter how big you might be, you’ll never be bigger than a long winter in the mountains or a long summer up in the mesas, and if you’re gonna make it through either, you best get to using your wits.

This approach plays out in our “purple state” politics, where Republicans, Democrats and our largest group of registered voters – independents – continuously defy the odds and, year after year, vote in public servants who find ways to compromise, work together and get things done. It plays out in our booming economy, amongst the first to recover from the recent recession, where we sit at the forefront of multiple industries, and punch far above our weight in bringing jobs and opportunities to our state. Sometimes it plays out in ways that lead to substantial controversy, like our matchless brewing industry and our new “green” economy. And of course, I wouldn’t be talking about all of this if I didn’t see it playing out in health care in Colorado.

As CMS president and a longstanding member of our AMA delegation, it has been my privilege to travel widely and to meet with medical leaders from just about every state in the union. As I’ve spent more and more time with them talking about the medical policy issues in their backyards and taking a look over the fence to see what’s going on in our own corral, it has become ever clearer to me that Colorado is light years ahead in terms of health care reform, and is still accomplishing things ahead of schedule.

Now, I don’t say this to be boastful. (Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, but I warned y’all, I LOVE it here). I say it to illustrate a point. Wayne Gretzky once said he was successful because he didn’t look to where the puck was at the moment, but looked instead to where the puck was going. To put it a bit more locally, you don’t generally climb a peak by staring at your boots; you gotta look at the summit.

If you need an example, just open this month’s magazine to the stories on COPIC. Founded by the physicians of Colorado, supported by CMS throughout the years, and able to successfully transform itself from a liability insurance company into a nationally renowned patient safety organization, an organization that looks after the health of physicians and patients alike, it represents the best of what we do here in Colorado. From its innovative start in crisis to a future that looks beyond liability, it has continually, repeatedly kept its eyes on the summit, and never stopped climbing. Because that’s how we do things here.

As I’m fond of saying, Colorado’s physicians face a lot of challenges in the current health care environment. But as Coloradans we have what it takes to get things done. It’s our legacy. And I don’t anticipate we’ll be abandoning our legacy any time soon.

Thanks for listening, and I’ll catch you at the top.

Posted in: Colorado Medicine | President's Letter | Health System Reform


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