June 1, 2015 (Chengdu, China) Monday afternoon we were scheduled to meet with the SPPH President (Dr. Deng Shaoping) and they tasked me with putting together a proposal for a new eye hospital. We’ve worked on the idea for a few years, but after much work, a cooperative agreement existed on paper with minimal advancement of the project - so my expectations were low. We had looked for an agenda a few weeks before arriving, but didn't receive one, so we had not prepared for any negotiation meetings.
The tone of this trip was noticeably different as we hit the ground here - we could feel some anticipation, expectation and heard hope expressed that “something will happen” this year. We began meeting with the Department Chair (Dr. Wu) and she too was optimistic so they asked me to put together a presentation for today. With little time to dust the cobwebs off files accumulated over the years, we spent Sunday night and early Monday morning working on it. It included a financial model for a new hospital wing - construction requirements, equipment (for outpatient clinic, operating rooms, laser refractive suite, diagnostic suite, inpatient facility and optical shop). Monday morning we
were asked to review that with Dr. Wu and her team…AND then asked to provide a plan B…just in case! Then just as the Plan A presentation began, she called some of the hospital finance people into the meeting and asked us to present our financial model. These were very sharp analytic guys went through every assumption with a fine toothed comb (we had to make a lot of wild assumptions because information wasn’t available). After a few hours of a lot of back and forth translating, we felt we ended up winning the skeptics over to accepting the model and they seemed to agree they could support the proposal…after 4 1/2 hours we finished with the skeptics, just 40 minutes before the meeting with the President and his team. Having worked on it for 12 hours straight, I had to tune out the world for a few minutes and listen to a little Aerosmith.
The meeting went well - set up in a traditional Chinese venue - their delegation on one side, ours on the other sitting at green felt covered tables with name tags and microphones - very official. The President opened up with apologies, accepting full
responsibilities for the delays and explained the context of health care reform and its impact on the hospital had been significant, but that the time was perfect to achieve our goals now. Queue Dr. Farris - he breaks out in a riveting slightly off-key a cappella rendition of One Republic’s “Apologize” 😊 After the requisite introductory remarks, we presented the plan including the three stage plan to develop a provincial approach to eye care: 1) Phase 1 - an international eye care wing in the existing hospital; 2) a new eye hospital (independent facility); and 3) a provincial network of county level hospitals to provide eye care tied to the eye hospital. The President made it clear this was a top priority for his 5200 bed hospital, directed his team to make it happen. He assigned 5,000 sq feet of space inside the hospital and told everyone to start work on helping make it happen and then told us of multiple locations in the city we could build a new eye hospital.
Even with an immense amount of work ahead (there was a real sense of optimism and achievement for both sides and for the emerging team.
evening we celebrated with hot pot.
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