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5 Physicians with Stories to Tell

Cora Nucci, for HealthLeaders Media, December 8, 2010

We've met some remarkable personalities this year, both in HealthLeaders magazine, and here, online.  Some of the most memorable healthcare leaders we've interviewed and written about are not the ones who run complex medical institutions and sprawling health systems. These are the folks who keep finding ways to cut costs, consolidate operations, and raise funds for their institutions.

Meanwhile, they are implementing EHRs, forging ahead with ACOs,  and waging war on HAIs. Their work is admirable, to be sure, but it stands separate from doctors who live and practice in places, far from cities, where the pace is slower, and healthcare can be hard to come by. 

1. David Nichols, MD, is a primary care doctor who has for the past 31 years, has commuted once a week to Tangier Island, VA, where he has been the island residents' primary healthcare provider.  For most of those years Nichols has piloted his own plane or helicopter to make the 15-minute flight. This year, ill with cancer, Nichols attended the opening of a medical clinic he spearheaded—his legacy—on the island.  Nichols is profiled in 20 People Who Make Healthcare Better.

2. Trauma expert A. Brent Eastman, MD, chairman of the American College of Surgeons Board of Regents, helped create one of the nation's earliest trauma systems.  This year he described to HealthLeaders senior editor Cheryl Clark his vision for a nationwide trauma system.  "What I feel—I and others with the same passion for the care of injured patients—is that you could throw a dart at a map of the U.S.  and wherever it lands, in 10 years, if you were injured there, you'd be assured that you'd be expeditiously transported to the level of care you needed," he said.

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