What a Joke

The beer is flowing in Ryan’s Pub, the crowd is spilling out the doors and those tside are peering in through the picture windows. For the moment, though, Briana Hansen is all alone, standing on the pub’s stage, solitary in the spotlight, trying to make the crowd laugh. Holding the microphone in her hand, she blanks out, then the words she’s practiced so many times start spilling out: stories about playing practical jokes on her roommate by pretending a stuffed dead cat is her pet—and asking her to feed it. “Freakin’ out!” Another about working the checkout line at a health food store, you know, “the one where people who are better than you shop.”

The crowd roars and she’s feeling on top of the world.

Hansen is a contestant in Xavier’s Last Muskie Standing comedy contest—a spin-off of the short-lived reality television show “Last Comic Standing.” Yet something surprises Hansen: She doesn’t remember a thing about her performance. “I just zoned out,” she says. Funny thing is, the crowd remembers, and after the other 19 students perform, she’s declared the winner.

Hansen is a junior honors student who came to Xavier to study politics, history and English. Not comedy. But she was knocked off her feet by the numerous outlets on campus for comedic roles—main stage theater productions, short-form improvisational groups, sketch comedy venues where students write and perform their own pieces. Best of all, she found an administrative environment that not only supports but encourages students to go out and be creative.

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The Center for Healthcare Informatics

At first glance, Port Angeles, Wash., doesn’t look like the leading edge of American culture. The small city sits on the Olympic Peninsula in the most northwestern corner of the American Northwest. To the south and west, the Olympic Mountains rise in a snow-capped arc. To the north is the glistening blue water of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Temperatures average in the 70s in the summer and life in the former logging center is generally slow and easy. But these factors that make the town so beautiful and favorable for its chief commodity—tourism—also make it attractive to retirees. In 2006, nearly a quarter of the area’s residents were more than 65 years old. And through that single demographic, Port Angeles—despite its idyllic appearance—found itself thrust onto the leading edge of one of the most important facets of American culture: the future of health care.

Michael Glenn was staring down the sharp edge of a crisis. It was fall 2005. Glenn was chief executive officer of the Olympic Medical Center when he learned the town’s largest primary care clinic, Virginia Mason Clinic, was being closed for financial reasons by its owner, a Seattle-based hospital. That meant about 12,000 of the community’s 65,000 residents were about to lose their primary place for care, and the clinic’s 16 physicians were about to lose their jobs. The people would be forced to turn to Glenn’s hospital for their needs, and it couldn’t possibly absorb that kind of demand.

So for the next 15 months, Glenn and the hospital’s board of commissioners were consumed in a struggle to balance the fears of an aging population with the demands of physicians and the realities of public-payer insurance systems.

And those involved were all too aware they were traveling largely uncharted waters—and their actions could well be a beacon for the rest of the industry. Because of Port Angeles’ peculiar demographics, the city was a microcosm of how America will look in the near future, so whatever they came up with was going to provide a futuristic snapshot of the human concerns and institutional strains caused by the aging of the Baby Boomers.

Says Jim Casey, the reporter who covered the story for the local Peninsula Daily News: “We’re 15 years ahead of the crest on aging in America.” Glenn casts the situation more pointedly: “We called it the sharp end of the spear.”

Glenn graduated from Xavier’s graduate program in health services administration in 1988. Much has changed in health care in the ensuing 19 years, and with the aging of Baby Boomers, much will change in the near future—as his situation in Port Angeles shows.

And such scenarios are causing industry insiders to rethink the way health care will be delivered in the future, says Ida Schick, chair of the health services administration program. To help deal with the rapid changes, the University is creating a center for health care informatics, which will be located along with the graduate program in health services administration within the new Williams College of Business. The center, which is being financed through the To See Great Wonders capital campaign, will train leaders in creating new strategies around technology-based health-care delivery systems and in streamlining existing systems to match the demands of the aging Baby Boomers.

“The big issue right now is how do you pay for health care?” she says. “Not just health care now, but health care in the future?”

It’s a challenge that must be addressed because it’s only going to get worse. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging, individuals age 65 and older made up 12.4 percent of the total U.S. population in 2004. But by 2030, when all of the Baby Boomers reach retirement age, that number will rise to 20 percent. And that’s only part of the picture. Americans are living longer. The current average life expectancy is 77.6 years. The population of people 85 years and older is projected to grow from 4.2 million in 2000 to 7.3 million in 2020. Then there’s insurance. Most older Americans already rely at least in part on public payer health insurance: Medicare and Medicaid. In 2004, 96 percent of non-institutionalized Americans age 65 and older were covered by Medicare; about 61 percent had private health insurance; slightly more than 7 percent had military insurance; and 9 percent were covered by Medicaid. But among Medicare patients living in nursing homes—and thus requiring constant care—in 2001 about 58 percent were also covered by Medicaid.

Glenn says about 70 percent of those residents in Port Angeles and the surrounding county rely on Medicare and Medicaid as opposed to private insurance.

This is telling because the heavy reliance on Medicare and Medicaid meant less money in payments to doctors as well as to the clinic itself, says Jim Leskinovitch, a nine-year veteran of the hospital board of commissioners. And as the population ages and larger numbers of people rely on Medicare and Medicaid, the cost drain on hospitals and other health care providers will increase considerably, adds Tom Ruthemeyer, an assistant professor of finance in the University’s health services administration program.

The clinic was a fixture in Port Angeles for more than 60 years, originally started by a group of independent physicians back before mergers, consolidations, HMOs and health alliances. Over the years, the clinic grew to employ 16 physicians, five nurse practitioners and 77 support staff who logged about 50,000 patient-visits a year.

About 10 years ago, the Seattle-based Virginia Mason Hospital purchased the clinic and immediately began losing money—about $1 million a year—in large part because of the rate of Medicare reimbursement. The clinic saw roughly 12,500 individual patients in the previous two years, about half of which were Medicare patients.

So while it may not have been a complete surprise when the clinic was closed, the news nonetheless sent shockwaves through the community. In all, Glenn says, the clinic’s doctors provided about one-quarter of the family care in Port Angeles, and their loss would mean there simply wouldn’t be enough doctors to care for the patients.

Though the Olympic Medical Center was under no legal obligation to help, a lack of doctors could also likely produce a strain on the hospital’s emergency room facilities and finances.

Managing the issue was tricky on several fronts: One, local independent physicians quickly took up opposition to the idea of the hospital absorbing the clinic’s doctors for fear their own practices would be driven out of business. Two, the hospital lacked funds to merely buy the existing clinic and maintain some semblance of the status quo for its patients, Leskinovitch says. The tax-supported hospital was running on a $100-million operating budget and claimed reserves of $30 million, but had $30 million tied up in expansions, debt and charity care.

And, three, a one-woman protest at the clinic mushroomed into a grassroots confederation made of up patients determined to keep the clinic and its doctors in the area. Things reached a fever pitch at a late-March meeting where grassroots members squared off against the hospital commission. Aware of what he was facing, Glenn convened a group of 20 stakeholders representing all factions, brought in a consulting group and went to work. “Health providers have been watching this demographic prediction come to life for the last several years,” Glenn says. “In my mind, there’s no question that, with the aging of America, health care in rural communities is going to be challenged. We viewed this as a way to refine our systems, to retool in a way other communities might learn from.”

The solution—though still being refined—seemed to satisfy the stakeholders. The Olympic Medical Center ultimately purchased the clinic building and is upgrading it to hospital standards, which will allow it to operate as a department of the hospital and thus open the door for a critical, higher Medicare reimbursement to ensure break-even financial status.

The clinic’s doctors recently ratified an agreement allowing most of them to remain as independent contractors, and the hospital is offering all area doctors such services as electronic medical records and billing services.

With the situation for the most part resolved, Glenn was tapped by another Xavier alumnus, Barry Cesafsky, to become assistant administrator at a larger facility, Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia. But he says the experience in Port Angeles gave him a new, healthy look at the delivery of health care—a view with ramifications stretching into the future.

“When you sit in the administrative suite, you’re forced to do things from a 40,000-foot level to understand the health care landscape of the system,” he says. “This experience helped me understand that while a 40,000-foot perspective is helpful, an on-ground, face-to-face perspective is crucial. A health crisis is really whether your neighbor has access or not. And until you’ve resolved that in your community, you have a health care crisis.”

Extreme Makeover: Dorm Edition

When Ann Hoffman moved into Husman Hall in the early 1970s, she and her roommate transformed their new home into a cozier abode by applying daffodil yellow paint to the walls, buying matching bedspreads and adding a few other domestic touches. Not only did the University let her choose her own colors, but it allowed her to stay in the same room year after year, which meant no need to repaint.

 

Unfortunately, today is a different story. With more than 1,800 resident students, the office of residence life has to enforce stricter rules to keep the dorms in peak condition. That means no more paint, nails or excessive wall coverings, which translates into a lot of bland, white-walled rooms. And with the rising cost of tuition, books and living expenses, most students don’t have a lot of funds left over to shell out for dorm-room décor.

To help students learn how to stretch those dollars, Xavier magazine enlisted the help of Hoffman, a 1975 graduate and owner of Hoffman & Albers Interiors in nearby Kenwood, and Cathy Tepe, a 1966 Edge-cliff graduate who works as an agenda consultant at Stein Mart in Norwood. With a budget of only $300 each, the women had to find a way to make over two sets of rooms—one male and one female—while adhering to the same rules students have to follow.

 

THE MEN’S ROOM

Wesley Sloat’s room on the second floor of Kuhlman Hall had the standard-issue wood furniture, two computers, a Playstation 2, a dull blue area rug, dirty laundry and not much else. So, the political science major and his roommate, Corey Maves, volunteered their digs to Tepe. “When I heard there was going to be a professional interior decorator decorating a dorm room, I was all for it,” says Sloat, who agreed to leave while the transformation took place. “In essence, our room could only be improved.”

Tepe met with the roommates ahead of time to get an idea of the space and gather ideas. Afterward, she headed back to Stein Mart to look for items. “I began to see a plan developing, a color scheme of mustard gold and black,” she says. “This was based upon items in our store that had great potential and were also on sale.”

On the day of the makeover, Tepe pulled up to Kuhlman circle in a car packed with sheets, towels, comforter covers, pillows, lamps and rugs. With the help of her friend, Shauna Dammel, a registered nurse who also works at Stein Mart, Tepe hung a large clock with a muted gold face and black trim on the wall using sticky-backed hooks instead of nails. She anchored this with four foam core boards covered in black pin-stripe fabric to form the shape of an X. She then made the beds with new sheets and added some matching “dog pillows.”

“These ‘dog pillows’ were bigger and cheaper than regular pillows and could also be cushions when they sat on the floor and played their video games,” Tepe says.

For a window treatment, Tepe used a heavy fabric shower curtain with the same pattern as the bedding, and hung it with adhesive hooks. She finished the room by covering the blue area rug with grass rugs of different sizes.

The entire process took about three hours. “My first thought was the room looked calm, relaxed, nice colors and really comfortable,” Sloat says. “I was immediately happy with the result and the mood the room set. I wouldn’t want to go back to the way the room used to be.”

However, Sloat wonders if he and Maves can sustain the order for long. “Dorm rooms are so busy and active, they have a hard time sustaining a civilized look,” he says.

 

THE WOMEN’S ROOM

Hoffman took a different approach with Manda Radice’s and Hannah Wilson’s room in the basement of Kuhlman Hall. “At home in Texas, I have a tendency to rearrange the furniture in my room at least every three months,” says Radice, a human resources major. “Here, I haven’t been able to do that. The idea of a change was so appealing to me.”

Since the room already exhibited a lot of color—from bedspreads to pillows to picture frames—Hoffman’s goal was to tie everything together. “The girls had already purchased their own bedspreads in unrelated colors,” she says. “My goal was to find a fun, youthful, fabric that incorporated their colors together.”

To stay within her $300 budget, she decided to sew most of the items. “Manda was looking for more seating, more efficient storage, and a way to dress up the windows,” Hoffman says. “I was able to make floor pillows for seating. The deep bed skirts gave a great disguise for under-bed storage and the valances really perked up the windows.” Hoffman pre-measured the room and hung the valances and bed skirts with Velcro strips.

To complete the room, Hoffman added artificial flowers in green glass vases and a couple pieces of art. She also made covers out of a complementary fabric for their desk chairs. Furthermore, Michelle Spaeth, a 1989 Xavier graduate and professional faux painter who often works with Hoffman, created pastel wall panels out of foam core and tissue paper that could double as message boards.

“I loved the colors in the room,” Radice says. “The things on the walls and the artwork completely brightened everything up. I would not have done anything differently. Ann did a great job.”

Profile: George W. Jackson

GEORGE W. JACKSON Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, 1972 Founder, Jackson Consulting Solutions Kenner, La.

 

Lessons Learned | Jackson had never envisioned himself being on the receiving end of a helping hand, but when his house was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he was forced to rethink his priorities. What made it easier was the help came from a group of 15 former Xavier classmates he calls his “band of brothers,” who contributed a sizable sum toward the cost of repairing.

Humble Pie | “It’s been a very humbling and amazing experience,” says Jackson, one of 10 siblings who worked his way through college. “All I can say is that I hope to be able to help other people in a similar fashion whether financially or through blood, sweat and tears. Once you’re the recipient of this kind of thing, you realize how important it is.”

Band of Brothers | His band of brothers came together at Xavier—high school friends from Indianapolis and new friends he made while here. Because Jackson left Xavier temporarily in 1969 to serve in the Indiana National Guard, most of his friends graduated before him. But his military experience helped him focus on his future, and he graduated in 1972.

Down South | Jackson relocated to Louisiana in 1978 for business opportunities, eventually developing his own financial and insurance consulting company. He was there when Hurricane Katrina approached the Gulf Coast in August 2005.

Perfect Storm | “When Katrina was threatening to become a Category 5 hurricane by landfall, we planned to evacuate to a town two hours west and stay with a friend’s family. By Sunday morning we knew we had to get out. At 7:00 a.m., I’d packed everything I could take and we left here. The traffic on Interstate 10 was an utter nightmare. All lanes were westbound. It took five hours.”

The Aftermath | “When we got back home, the water had receded and mold was crawling up the walls and all over the furniture. It was a God-awful mess. From four feet above the floor to the baseboards, the walls had to be ripped out and all the insulation, the Sheetrock, the vanities in the bathrooms, the doors and door frames, kitchen cabinets and appliances all had to be thrown out.”

The Gift | In October, Mike Leppert, one of the brothers, called him to say he’d contacted all their Xavier friends and took up a collection to help him out. Jackson tried to refuse the money. “But he said he’d been sent all these checks, and it’s all for you and we’re going to wire transfer it to you.” Jackson wrote an open letter to Xavier in January to publicly thank his friends for their generosity.

Perfect Timing | The money came at a time when they needed cash to buy materials like Sheetrock, floor covering and kitchen cabinets to repair their house. Their insurance claims had not yet been processed, they couldn’t work and they needed thousands of dollars to get the repairs started. And it had to be cash because the stores couldn’t take credit cards. “We needed to have cash and this really bailed us out of a tough time.”

Profile: Dr. Timothy J. Broderick

DR. TIMOTHY J. BRODERICK Bachelor of Science in chemistry and computer science, 1986 Associate Professor of Surgery and Biomedical Engineering Director, Advanced Center for Telemedicine and Surgical Innovation, University of Cincinnati

 

Family Medicine | Broderick is one of seven children. Six went to medical school and all graduated from Xavier. One of his earliest memories is riding along in the family station wagon while his dad, Dr. Joseph Broderick, made house calls.

First Impression | One day, after church, he watched his father perform CPR on a man. The incident made a lasting impression on the 8-year-old Broderick. “I remember thinking it would be great to be able to help save people,” he says.

First A Surgeon | After graduating from UC’s College of Medicine, Broderick chose general and trauma surgery with a subspecialty in advanced laparoscopic surgery and robotics, which was in its infancy. With its use of computers and video technology to make small incisions, he saw a greater future for technology to improve surgery and benefit patients.

Astronaut | Another boyhood memory was seeing Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. He wanted to be an astronaut. While he still has that dream, he wrote and won a proposal for NASA to develop surgical capabilities for space flights using a video game that simulated surgery in space.

First An Aquanaut | That led to additional research with NASA to test the technology under water. To make that happen, he became an aquanaut, joining the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO, which sends teams to the Florida Keys to live in an undersea habitat 62 feet down and practice advanced surgery techniques for improving life for astronauts in space.

NEEMO Times Two | Broderick was a member of NEEMO 9’s 18-day mission in April 2006. In May, he joined NEEMO 12 for 11 days along with two astronauts and a flight surgeon.

Aquarius | Living in Aquarius, the undersea habitat the size of a Winnebago, is a challenge. The food is freeze dried, the sleeping quarters are stacked bunks and the restroom facilities are, well, au naturel. “Those family trips I took in the family station wagon were good preparation,” he says.

Distant Medicine | The research has expanded to include his specialty—telemedicine, which allows doctors in one place to treat and operate on patients in another. Whether it’s a soldier on a battlefield or an astronaut in space, computer technology, telecommunications and robots are the future tools that will keep them alive.

Telesurgery | Broderick set up robots in Aquarius to perform procedures when prompted by a surgeon in Cincinnati. In one procedure, the surgeon used a computer keyboard and a touch screen to direct the robot where to cut and where to suture an abscess on a dummy. The program has a built-in lag time to replicate the extra time it takes for signals to reach the Moon or Mars.

Profile: Katie McMahon

KATIE MCMAHON Bachelor of Science in sport management, 2003 Marketing coordinator, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indianapolis

 

Event Planner | McMahon began working at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November. Her responsibilities include planning the multitude of activities for the speedway leading up to the Indianapolis 500, as well as for the U.S. Grand Prix (Formula I) and the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (NASCAR). She’s also responsible for such marketing areas as developing and improving the speedway’s marketing presence online.

Super Memory | As a result of working for the speedway, McMahon was recruited to help with the city’s parade after the Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl. Her job: Drive a pickup truck full of Indianapolis Colts players and cheerleaders down the parade route. “Though I’m not a Colts fan, it was still one of the most unique experiences of my life. Driving through a sea of screaming fans in the downtown streets and then pulling into a packed RCA Dome was an unbelievable and indescribable feeling.”

Friendly Faces | Initially Xavier was not high on McMahon’s list of schools to attend. “I didn’t really know much about the school. When I came on an overnight visit and stayed in the dorms, I was completely hooked. Everyone seemed so friendly and the students always looked like they were having fun.”

Rewards of Rigor | “At Xavier, I really had to work hard for everything I did, and it helped instill in me a very strong work ethic. I have discovered since college that a good work ethic and unselfish dedication will get you noticed, and it has certainly paid off tremendously for me.”

Cover Girl | At Xavier, McMahon was an X-treme fan, serving as the group’s president her senior year. “I was one of those crazy kids painting myself blue for basketball games. Actually, that got me on the cover of the Spring 2003 issue of Xavier magazine. I’m the one with the blue hair and the cross around my neck.”

Career Track | Following graduation, McMahon moved to Chicago to get an M.B.A. at Loyola University, then began her first job in marketing with the South Bend Silver Hawks, a minor-league affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. She then spent a year-and-a-half working for the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets before moving to Indianapolis.

Gearing Up | McMahon says it’s easy to get excited about working at the Brickyard. “On my drive to work, there is a place where I turn the corner and boom, there it is—the largest sporting venue in the world. This place is bigger than you could ever imagine. It takes a long time to get from one end to the other. I am constantly amazed that I get to come here each day.”

The Long Run | As she prepared for her first Indy 500, McMahon envisioned staying at the speedway awhile. She wants to combine all of her favorite aspects of working in sports into a successful and happy career. “And of course when I have children down the road, I’ll be teaching them all about Xavier basketball.”

Profile: Anne Leugers

ANNE LEUGERS Bachelor of Science in chemistry, 1975 Scientist, The Dow Chemical Co. Midland, Mich.

 

Breaking In | In 1984, Leugers joined a new area of research at Dow Chemical in fiber optic probe development and online spectroscopy and light scattering. “At that time Dow Chemical was really starting to investigate the use of fiber optics. They had a very large program to develop in situ and online technology. I was one of about two to three people that were investigating the use of fiber optics for online spectroscopy. It was a very exciting time.”

Breaking Through | Today, she is the only female scientist in the central research division. “To some extent, the scientist promotion is the glass ceiling at Dow,” she says. “There are very few women in these roles.”

No Role Models | Although not ideal, she’s not surprised she’s the lone female scientist. From her undergraduate to her post-doctoral work, Leugers never had a single female professor in her field. “There were so few women in science back then that I didn’t even think about it.”

Equal Treatment | Fortunately, her parents treated the girls and boys in the family the same. “They challenged us all to work hard and do our best,” she says.

Spreading the Word | “Whenever I’ve been asked to talk about my career and trying to be successful, what I try to emphasize is that you don’t want to climb fast and create the sense among your colleagues that you didn’t deserve it,” she says. “And so that’s what my message is really: Work hard, do the right things, become really, really good and don’t worry about breaking through that glass ceiling. It will happen if you focus on the right things and doing a lot of good work.”

The Daily Grind | Contrary to popular belief, Leugers doesn’t spend her day cooped up in a lab. “A lot of what we do is information gathering and then trying to benchmark against state-of-the-art technology and understand what we can do relative to other companies,” she says. Right now, for example, Leugers is exploring solar cells and nano technology. “I really like the diversity of projects I get to work on,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Well Regarded | Leugers has authored more than 175 proprietary technical articles for Dow, published 43 technical articles, book chapters and patents, and has received numerous awards and recognition for her work, including a cover article inChemical and Engineering News, the leading journal for the chemical industry.

All in the Family | Leuger’s husband also specializes in spectroscopy, which sometimes provides odd dinner conversation for their three children. “Sometimes we’ll say, ‘Have you ever seen that band, you know like 1,500 wave numbers?’ The children just roll their eyes.”

In With Finn

The Father Finn Society continues to grow at a record pace. The society, which includes those who have arranged planned gifts to the University, welcomed 25 new members this year, bringing membership to 256.

“Our goal is to have 300 members in the next couple of years,” says Mark McLaughlin, executive director for the office of gift and estate planning.

Ultimately, McLaughlin says, “The greatest impact is going to be on future students because of the funds that will be available for financial aid, scholarships and programming. Some of the undesignated gifts will also be available to help out with construction of new facilities.”

Future of X Tours

Alumni chapters across the country are hosting gatherings that offer insights into the To See Great Wonders campaign and its campus developments. The invitation-only gatherings are for those who contributed to the annual fund during the past three years.

Chapters with events already planned include:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Cincinnati
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Butler County, Ohio
  • Chicago
  • Dayton, Ohio

Other chapters hosting events but whose dates are not yet set include: Cleveland, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Louisville, Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Southwest Florida, Detroit and Boston.