Monday, October 5, 2009

Birth Advocates -- Venting or Finding a Solution?

This post may hit a nerve. Almost all birth advocates are women. Having read "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus" and having watched every episode of "Sex in the City" (any show where a bald Jewish guy (Harry) gets the prettiest girl (Charlotte) is worth watching). I know that women vent, and that men fix things. I have been to many conferences with birth advocates. I like to do a one-on-one exercise randomly with advocates. I say: "I am a hospital CEO. I am giving you 10 minutes of my busy schedule. What is it that you want?" Having done this over 100 times with different advocates, I have yet to have someone tell me while I’m playing the role of the CEO, “what it is they want me to implement ,that is also within my power and/or authority. Statements such as: "I want you to treat women better.” To which I respond "I don't know what that means and 98% of our delivering women are pleased with how they were treated based on the surveys they submitted.” Or, "I want you to train more midwives!" To which I respond, "We are a hospital, we hire midwives. Universities train midwives." Another good one is, "you're obstetricians don't respect women, they treat them like garbage!" To which I respond, "75% of our obstetricians are women!” Or, how about, "your hospital is doing too many interventions!" To which I respond:” I am the CEO of the hospital, I don't know what an intervention is, but I'm sure our physicians follow the current standards of practice. Your time is up, thank you for coming in." Last week I blogged about how effective Karen Fennel has been on Capitol Hill lobbying to put birth centers, into the Medicare law and the health reform bill. In the linked article, Karen said that if it is too complicated, she will actually write the bill for the legislatures. In doing so, Karen keeps it short and directly to the point, leaving out extraneous information. Hospital administrators, physicians, trade association executive directors, congressional staffers, as well as Congressmen and Senators themselves, have very busy schedules. Their time really is valuable, and if they choose to give you an opportunity to meet, I implore you, please, do not squander it. Have a game plan! Ask for things that are within their purview to give you. Be specific! Ask for more than you want and be prepared to compromise and know in advance that you will probably receive less than you want, but more than you already had. Alan Learn how to make allies of people that may not share your views, at the Controversies in Childbirth Conference, February 19-21, 2010, in Tampa Florida.

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