By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
In a year dominated by debate on health care reform, President Barack Obama, not surprisingly, topped Modern Healthcare’s 2009 list of the 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare. Several influential nurses also ranked highly among the publication’s readers.
Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR, felt proud to be recognized as the 33rd most powerful person in health care.
“This recognition isn’t about any one individual, rather it reflects well on the nursing profession’s collective strength, wisdom and leadership,” said Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR, president of the American Nurses Association (ANA), which, along with its constituent members represents nearly 200,000 individual nurses. Patton was voted 33rd most powerful on the magazine’s annual list. “I am proud to be cited on Modern Healthcare’s 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare’s list among these visionary nurse leaders.”
Patton began her nursing career in 1980 and has inpatient and outpatient experience. In addition to serving as president of ANA, she is director of perioperative services for EMH Regional Healthcare System in Elyria, Ohio.
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Modern Healthcare readers initially nominated 25,700 people for the 2009 listing. Then the Chicago-based trade magazine placed the names of the 301 people receiving the most nominations on a final, online ballot. Nearly 52,000 readers cast slightly fewer than half a million votes.
Modern Healthcare readers named Pamela A. Thompson, MS, RN, FAAN, the 23rd most powerful person in health care.
Pamela A. Thompson, MS, RN, FAAN, CEO of the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) in Washington, D.C., ranking 23 on this year’s “Most Powerful” list, also deflected the attention from herself.
“I see it as a vote for nurse executives in the health dialog that goes on, especially with health reform,” Thompson said. “It’s important to include nurses in that conversation.”
AONE supports solutions that will provide health care insurance to the uninsured.
Sister Carol Keehan, DC, RN, MS, was named the 18th most powerful person in health care.
Sister Carol Keehan, DC, MS, RN,, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States in Washington ranked 18th this year. Keehan is responsible for all association operations and said she has enormous respect for the people who deliver health care—from the nurses monitoring a laboring mom at 3 a.m. to the maintenance man who ensures the power stays on.
“I believe people deserve quality care,” Keehan said. “I hope I am part of a collective effort to make quality care available to everybody who needs it, not just those who can afford it and will help political leaders at the local and national level understand the reality of health care needs today. I’m working diligently on health care reform worthy of the American people.”
Keehan participated in the White House Health Reform Summit earlier this year, where she talked to the president about the importance of covering everyone and how critical that factor will be to successful health reform. She has written about the economic benefits of reform.
“Health care must respect and protect human dignity from conception to natural death,” Keehan said. “In that spirit, coverage for everyone is a moral imperative and a matter of social justice.”
Ann Converso, RN, came in as the 42nd most powerful person in health care. Photo credit Lee Balgemann Photographics, 2003.
Ann Converso, RN, president of the United American Nurses (UAN), AFL-CIO, in Silver Spring, Md., ranked at number 42, became union president in 2007. She had practiced for more than 30 years at the VA Western New York Healthcare System in Buffalo before retiring last fall.
“Our national union, the United American Nurses, is a recognized leader for staff nurses,” Converso said about ranking so highly on the list. “We have worked hard to be the face and voice of nurses. We’ve figured out what staff nurses are interested in and have inserted ourselves and said we belong here.”
Converso expressed that, even when people have philosophical differences on issues, staff nurses working in hospitals and clinics should be present at the table to present their views.
“If you ignore something, it doesn’t make it go away,” Converso said. “Any decision about nursing, health care, or health care reform, we need to be there and bring our views. It is important to talk about why staff nurses believe and see it differently and desire different outcomes.”
The UAN supports health reform and has urged passage of the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
At number 49 on the list stands Patricia Hemingway-Hall, president and CEO of Health Care Service Corp., a customer-owned health benefits company in Chicago. Her organization operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas and is the fourth largest health insurance company in the United States, according to information at the firm’s Web site. Hemingway-Hall is a graduate of Michigan State University College of Nursing.
Sister Mary Jean Ryan, FSM, chair and CEO of SSM Health Care in St. Louis, ranks 71st. Her nursing experience includes supervisory roles at St. Mary’s Health Center in St. Louis and St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. She served as SSM Health Care’s first president and CEO, having been appointed in 1986. Throughout her reign in that role, and now as chairperson of the board of directors, she has championed continuous quality improvement, diversity and preservation of the earth.
Twila Brase, RN, ranked as the 75th most powerful person in health care.
Twila Brase, RN, president of the Citizens’ Council on Health Care, a free-market, patient-centered health-care policy organization in St. Paul, Minnesota, came in 75th.. She called her presence on the list a total surprise.
“The only thing I can assume is that the people who did vote for me appreciate my efforts within Citizens’ Council on Health Care to protect patient and doctor freedom and the medical and genetic privacy rights needed to secure that freedom,” Brase said.
Among the 10-year-old organization’s goals, according to its Web site, is less dependency on government health care programs, life-long insurance policies owned by the individual, independent of employment, and a charitable safety net supported by tax incentives.
“The current attempts to standardize the practice of medicine through quality (compliance) metrics and so-called ‘evidence-based medicine’ is a threat to individualized, patient-centric care,” Brase said. “Such one-size-fits-all government treatment decisions breach the patient-doctor relationship and put patients in harm’s way.”
For complete information on the 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare, visit Modern Healthcare’s web site.
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