Monday, May 20, 2013 (Chengdu) The best laid plans often need to be changed, maybe even more often here in West China. If that frustrates you too much, you probably won’t survive here. If you adapt, it may present opportunity you never imagined possible. With that foreshadowing...
The symposium ran overtime. Admittedly we had started a bit later than anticipated, grabbed a quick sandwich before heading to the SPPH for our meetings. Initially scheduled at 2:00 pm, we arrived around 2:30, but the CCEW team was still at the TCL hotel. The van went to pick them up and after a brief delay we began our meeting. In a rather formal looking atmosphere reminiscent of an international peace negotiation, we sat at long tables, covered in dark green tablecloths, with microphones and each team member’s name card, facing each other.
Because of the delay, the senior Vice-President of the hospital (Dr. Dng) had to excuse himself at the beginning of the meeting just as we started introductions. With each introduction we realized the breadth of representation from their side including management from each department that would need input to the project including pricing, accounting, medical services, marketing, clinical facilities
and human resources groups as well as the international programs coordinator. The CCEW team had formal letters from both OU President David Boren and Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Bell to present the Chinese. Jeff Moore (Exec Director of CCEW) summarized and he and Val Myers-Christensen (CCEW Director of Programs) presented the letters to the Chinese.
The discussions rapidly moved to the proposed agreement between the two sides for the new eye institute, with the objectives of reviewing the basic outline, identifying the differences that needed to be negotiated and then seeing if we could engage in a process to deal with the differences. Both sides' comments seemed cautious and deliberate initially, but the SPPH team did embrace the phased concept we had proposed: a pilot phase inside the existing SPPH facilities that would eventually move to a separate institute once the concept was proven. We were concerned that we be able to deal with three issues where we sensed there might be some difficulty coming to consensus: the pricing for services indicating financial viability; the space allocation (the quality and amount of space); and the scope of physician participation from both sides.
Each area was dealt
with in turn with a good (although at times chaotic exchange because of translation) with good insight provided by both sides. Our side was able to understand the controls limiting medical/surgical pricing in China (especially in government hospitals). We dealt with the incentive and commitment of physician participation, and then approached the subject of space. From changes both sides perceived in the preliminary documents we’d exchanged, we somehow ended up with 1,000 sq feet of space. We felt it would be challenging to showcase effectively in a 3,330 bed facility with that space. We gently voiced our concern, and surprisingly their response was that that’s what they thought we had requested. The bottom line is that they had just inaugurated a brand new ornate 23-story inpatient rehabilitation center build largely on donations from the Hong Kong government following the 2008 earthquake. If we were willing to consider our program as “vision rehabilitation,” it very well could fit in the new building. We asked if we could see the space, and their initial response requested a detailed outline of space required. Dr. Dng returned and apologized for his absence – he had been over at the new building for a meeting
on space allocation. He is the main decision maker for space allocation. The Chinese kept repeating that we had come at the very right time – one week later and the facility’s space would be committed, but they might be willing and able to rearrange existing space allocations based on our need – but they needed to know our requirements.
After communicating that it depended on some of their input, we agreed that we needed clinical space for two simultaneous clinics, an optical shop, waiting area, administrative space including education area, two operating rooms and supporting facilities. We outlined the need for quality space so we could brand the service as a premier brand. There was great support from their side for the concept and just before they took us for a tour of two facilities, Dr. Dng read the two letters from OU – and realized that the recent Chinese Nobel laureate for literature’s primary work had been translated at the University of Oklahoma – acknowledging that this relationship was much beyond eye care, medical care but also about cultural exchange. Our tour included two areas: the new rehabilitation center building and the existing fourth floor of their
outpatient facility. They showed us two floors to consider in the new building – one just off the main entrance and one on the second floor – still open to the main entry foyer. The second option included a very large wing of the top floor of their current outpatient clinic. An older layout, it would have to be gutted and remodeled which they said was no problem. We adjourned with the task of coming up with our space requirements and a decision of where we would prefer to house the new facility – ending Meeting #1 well beyond where we thought we’d get.
We adjourned to a local restaurant with several faculty and residents for another spectacular traditional Sichuan meal...and begin planning our space needs! Why didn't we get a whizkid from architecture on this team?
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