Like a Drop of Water

Donna Sollenberger, EVP & CEO, UTMB Health SystemThis week, I attended the second UTMB Family Campaign Beam Signing, which was held at the Specialty Care Center at Victory Lakes for UTMB employees who contributed to the campaign. As everyone gathered around the large steel beam to sign their names, I thought about how the beam will be displayed in the stairwell of the new hospital as a visible reminder of the many people at UTMB who supported the effort to build the Jennie Sealy Hospital. Signing the beam is a symbolic gesture. Each name on the beam represents an individual’s commitment to improve health in the communities UTMB serves, while the beam itself represents the collective gift of more than 3,900 employees who have raised $8.1 million toward the new hospital.

I also thought about how in the future, that collective commitment will continue to have an impact far greater than we might imagine it to be today. After all, many years ahead, some of the individuals who contributed to the campaign may be part of new organizations, and some may have moved to live in a new city or state without occasion to return to Galveston. These individuals may never actually see how their contribution made a difference or fully comprehend its magnitude, but it will most certainly change the lives of many patients and families who receive outstanding care within the walls of the new facility.

This triggered a memory of an experience I had after building a previous hospital. It was a children’s hospital, and shortly after it opened, one of my son’s close friends had just had a baby, who experienced complications. The child was immediately transferred to the new hospital where he was quickly diagnosed and began extensive treatment for a metabolic disorder. Prior to the new hospital, the child would have been transferred hours away from home to receive care, and an already trying experience would have been even more challenging for the family. In the worst case scenario, the child could have lost his life. For me, it was a meaningful experience to see firsthand how the new hospital had a major impact on a family’s life and the life of a patient.

Like a drop of water that never reaches the shore, but creates ripples that extend outward, our impact on the world will likely be greater than we imagine it today. Whatever our role at UTMB, most of us have chosen the field of health care to make a difference. We want to spend the time we must away from home doing something that has great meaning to us. Leaving a legacy doesn’t mean that we have to give more than we can afford; it doesn’t mean that we must achieve tremendous feats like becoming president or composing a masterpiece. It doesn’t matter what we do as long as we leave the world a better place than we found it and have demonstrated our values in a way that will have meaning to future generations.

So many people at every level reinforced the hard work and dedication they demonstrate every day with their generosity. Thank you to each and every member of the UTMB Health community who participated in the 2012 UTMB Family Campaign, Working Together the Future is Ours. You have made a difference!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead