In the Arena with Dr Jandel Allen-Davis
Dr. Jandel Allen-Davis is the president and CEO of Craig Hospital. She received her medical degree from Dartmouth College and serves as the President of the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners.
You practiced medicine for a long time before transitioning into an administrative role, what prompted that move?
I have always gravitated to tables where people are trying to make things better. There are those who come into an organization and want to do their jobs super well, and there are others who want to actually move the work and the organization forward. They are both doers, but they are different. There was a time when I was in clinical practice, where I thought they would take me out of this world with a baby in one hand and a speculum in the other. As you can see, neither happened.
Healthcare has undergone a tremendous amount of change through the legislative process in the last decade. How do you anticipate the passage of the Colorado Public Option impacting Craig Hospital?
It is not yet clear how the public option will affect any of us, we will have to see what uptake is like in the overall market. Craig Hospital is downstream from the acute care hospitals. So typically, by the time folks land at Craig, especially given the catastrophic nature of their injuries, they’ve more than met their deductible. Most of the personal financial impact is related to how their rehabilitation benefit is structured. Assuming those cover their time in the hospital, the impact on their out-of-pocket costs should be minimal. Sometimes, for a host of medical or discharge disposition reasons, for example, they end up needing to stay beyond their benefit limits. Many of those costs are assumed under our charity care programs if patients qualify based on income.
What do you wish the legislature and your fellow Colorado CEOs understood about healthcare?
When we think about the panoply of issues on the horizon, whether it’s water, safety, climate, healthcare, education, you name it – you can’t be an expert at everything. And healthcare is complicated. It is incredibly complicated. There are places where incentives are aligned and there are a lot of places where incentives aren’t aligned. In the 15 or 16 years that I’ve been in healthcare government relations, there have been some significant clashes where well-intentioned policy ended up hurting consumers. I wish legislators could get clear about when political agendas are driving decisions versus really good public policy. I also have a strong belief that we should view the desire to promulgate either more regulation or legislation as a failure of our communities to come together and solve their own problems. If you think about a golf bag, communities and community involvement and engagement is the club we should be grabbing most often and we should think about the legislature as a rarely used one!
I’ll add that we need to slow down. For healthcare in particular. Healthcare is on the ropes and I think it’s going to be on the ropes for a few more years. It’s surprising to me and candidly, I’ll just say disappointing, what’s happening with expenses relative to revenue in the context of COVID-19. Let’s go fight the good fight to deal with the crisis but we need to slow down on legislative changes. We’re not paying nearly enough attention to the social and emotional health and well-being of those who are delivering care at this time and attempting to address some of the deeply ingrained, yet needed change, in health care just seems out of step with what we are dealing with currently.
In terms of my fellow CEOs, I’d like them to understand that at any given time, on any given issue, altruism may be at one end of the spectrum and self-interest at the other. Whether that’s self-interest for our businesses, or for us as individuals, or just in general. The best options, including those to address the pressures that health care costs and premiums place on our businesses, those with the best outcomes, are going to be somewhere in the middle of altruism and self-interest. As employers, it is up to us to create the kind of societies and civic vibrancy we want and work hard to bring those ideas to life. We are used to thinking of community as “grassroots”, but it could also be the community of Colorado Concern or any Chamber or a public-private partnership. I’d like to see us work together more closely to arrive at solutions.
Your work in the community, and in politics, extends far beyond healthcare. As a leading contributor to the 2020 statewide infrastructure report Together We Build, you helped identify the key investments across the state. What opportunities do you see for Colorado when it comes to infrastructure?
I think it’s pretty cool that Colorado got ahead of this in terms of designing a blueprint for infrastructure investment. It is something that the governor’s office and the legislature can use because we’ve done a lot of heavy lifting for them. The intent was to avoid having to start all over by defining what infrastructure is and what our real needs are, be they water, or last mile, or education. So I’m excited that we got it done. It was great timing.
Colorado Concern recently committed to connecting 400 traditionally overlooked candidates with career-path positions at member companies over the next five years. I understand Craig Hospital has committed to hiring several candidates from our partner Activate Workforce Solutions. What can you tell us about working with Activate?
Well, first of all, Helen Young Hayes is a force of nature. I just think her story is amazing. That she left the investment world where you can do interesting and great work on behalf of clients while making an incredible living yourself to say, “I’m going to take on one of frankly our world’s biggest issues, and that is poverty, and generational poverty.” To say that we are going to create the connection between the only people who can help generate wealth in this country, that is the private sector, and people who have largely been marginalized and stigmatized is a Bold Goal. By giving them the experience, exposure, and even education to allow them a potential way out of poverty is noble and just.
I also think that we have, on a practical level, no choice. We have no choice when you think about what folks graduating from high school, assuming they graduate, are prepared to do or not prepared to do. It’s the Colorado paradox, where we’re not educating our own. It’s time for us as employers to jump into this space. Because who is going to work in our organizations, our plants, our offices if we don’t. No one can accomplish this at scale and at an accelerated pace except employers
Rapid Fire Round:
- Who inspires you? My aunt. She is 95 and the kind of woman who, born in a different time, would have been doing what I am doing. She is in no small part why I am where I am.
- What is your favorite place in Colorado? Telluride, it is my favorite place on earth
- What are you reading? We have a book club at Craig and we’re reading Wild Seed by Octavia Butler. I have also recently bought and given out ten copies of The Boy, The Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.
- What’s your favorite restaurant? Sushi Den