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AHA: Brokaw Calls for Unity Among Healthcare Leaders

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, July 18, 2011

It's always nice to have a trip to San Diego in the middle of heat wave. Got on the plane in Nashville Sunday at 10:00 a.m. at 92 degrees and climbing, with high humidity—and deplaned in San Diego three hours later at 70 degrees and very little humidity. But you're not reading this for a weather report.

I'm here because the American Hospital Association's Leadership Summit is being held here, and for some reason, they kick the thing off bright and early on Sunday.

I got here too late to attend the early sessions, but in time to catch the first keynote speaker, Tom Brokaw, who needs no introduction.

As a septuagenarian, he pretty much gets to do what interests him these days, and what interests him is the divisiveness that paralyzes our public discourse, our politics, and even our interpersonal relationships—at least that was my take on his talk.

I was curious about what one of the biggest news personalities of all time would have to say about healthcare, and I wasn't disappointed—he has eight physicians in his family. More on that soon. But as you might imagine, Brokaw started by tackling a bigger subject than healthcare.

"What happened to the America I thought I knew?" he asked, rhetorically.

For a man who lived through and covered 1968, with its race riots, Vietnam, and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., that's a pretty damning question all by itself. "Have we become so divided that we are headed for a crash landing?"

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