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  • MD Anderson Cancer Center outpatient facility on UTMB Health League City Campus - artist rendering

    Some things are worth working hard and waiting for

    September 13, 2018, 14:20 PM by Donna K. Sollenberger
    When I was young, I was working toward a very important goal in my life, and I had planned out exactly what I needed to do in order to make this goal a reality. I placed each step of my plan on a timeline so I could see when each task would be initiated and completed. I also noted the people whose help I would need along the way and the financial resources necessary to realize my goal. Armed with confidence in my newly developed plan, I moved forward with the first step. At the beginning, there were many “fits and starts.” It seemed on many days, I would take one step forward and two steps back. On other days, I felt as if I had the world by the tail because everything was going smoothly. Yet at other times, I felt as though I might be headed down the wrong path. I would complain to my dad that maybe I should quit—it was too hard, and I felt like it was taking too much time away from other aspects of my life...
  • Napkin with writing: Do you like me? Check Yes or No

    It isn’t always as easy as checking “yes or no”

    September 7, 2018, 12:00 PM by Donna Sollenberger
    Over the weekend, I was listening to my car radio when a George Strait song, “Check Yes or No,” came on. This song always makes me smile, because it reminds me of a very funny story that involved my son, Blake, and his four college roommates. Blake was a senior in college at a Wisconsin university. It was Saturday, and he and his roommates had decided to drive to Janesville to have lunch at AppleBee’s. Just as he and his roommates were about to leave for the restaurant, one of his roommates, Matt, got a call from his girlfriend who wanted to go to lunch. Matt told the others he was changing his plans to go to lunch with his girlfriend instead. He also said that his girlfriend wanted to go to AppleBee’s, so he asked the rest of his roommates to choose another place to eat. Thinking back, I am sure Matt wished he had never asked them to change lunch plans! As you probably can predict, the roommates decided they were definitely eating at AppleBee’s...
  • Breathe

    August 23, 2018, 14:50 PM by Donna Sollenberger
    My husband, Kent, and I really like the show “Modern Family.” For those of you who watch this television show, you will probably remember the episode where Phil, the father, changes to a very technologically-advanced television remote. The family makes a bet that Phil can teach Haley, the oldest daughter who is type cast as “ditzy,” to use the remote before the mother, Claire, can learn it. In our family, I am Claire. I am a person who appreciates technology, but somehow I am not that good at operating it. I am the person who cannot get the stereo system to work correctly, even when I am doing everything right. When I give up and ask my husband to try, he immediately gets it to work. It is so infuriating! If I pick up the television remote and one of my family members is home, before I can do anything, they grab it away from me. This is probably because, due to my occasional impatience, when I cannot get the remote to do what I think it should, I just start pushing all the buttons. This has led to me being blamed for any and all problems with the remote, even if I have not touched it—it has become a running joke in our family.
  • Difficult Decisions

    August 17, 2018, 15:45 PM by Donna Sollenberger
    In the summer of 2008, I received a call from one of my best friends. A week earlier, he had received news that he had cancer. The diagnosis shocked and depressed him. He had just gone over his options for care with a physician to whom he had been referred, but after that visit, my friend decided to call me for advice. After my friend told me what the oncologist said during his visit, he said that he felt he needed to explore other places where he might receive treatment and other possible treatment options. As he was dealing with an aggressive cancer, time was of the essence...
  • Futures can be invented

    August 10, 2018, 10:00 AM by Donna Sollenberger
    About this time last year, David Marshall, our System Chief Nursing and Patient Care Services Executive, told me about a book that he and his nursing directors were reading. Authored by Bob Johansen, Leaders Make the Future is an excellent read. In fact, I have a monthly luncheon with our former administrative fellows who are employed at UTMB, and we pick a book to read each year. Based on David’s recommendation, this is the book I chose for the year. I love the idea that people, whether as individuals or organizational leaders, can design or “make” their future. The use of the action verb, “make” leaves the impression that it is possible to create the future instead of being whipsawed by the winds of change. In health care today, creating the future has an appeal. It gives us the inspiration to lead the way rather than succumb to the external forces changing our industry...
  • The path that leads to the future

    August 3, 2018, 08:51 AM by Donna Sollenberger
    This past Fourth of July, my husband, my daughter’s family and I visited one of my sons and his family in the San Diego area. Because my daughter-in-law grew up in Coronado, California, a nearby island to San Diego, we often celebrate the holiday there...
  • swimming_1200

    Lessons from the pool

    July 20, 2018, 12:10 PM by Donna Sollenberger
    Growing up in the Midwest, summers always meant vacation Bible school, dance lessons, clarinet lessons, hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, catching fireflies, listening to St. Louis Cardinals games on the back patio with an old transistor radio and swim lessons. All but the last fill me with good memories. Being the ever-good mother, my mom was convinced my siblings and I all must learn to swim. While the closest body of water was at least five miles away and we certainly did not live in a neighborhood where people had pools in their back yards, my mother was adamant about all three of us learning to swim.
  • The Upside of Stress

    July 11, 2018, 13:01 PM by Donna Sollenberger
    Last week, I shared that I had attended the annual meeting of America’s Essential Hospitals. One of my favorite presentations of the week was by keynote speaker, Psychologist Kelly McGonigal, who discussed the upside of stress. That’s right – I said the “upside.” As essential hospital leaders, we have a lot of experience with stress, wouldn’t you agree? Generally, we tend to think of stress as a bad thing. It can have an adverse impact on our health. It can make our heart pound, increase our blood pressure, quicken our breathing and cause us to sweat. If we experience stress over a long period of time, it can make it difficult to concentrate, compromise our immune system, and even cause weight gain and gray hair! Stress is, however, an unavoidable part of life...
  • Our Communities Depend on Us

    July 6, 2018, 11:35 AM by Donna Sollenberger
    On June 22, as Chair of the Board, I had the distinct honor to speak at the annual meeting of America’s Essential Hospitals. The theme of my talk was the vital role of safety net hospitals, such as UTMB Health, in the communities they serve. Whether we partner with others to assure access to care throughout the community or we maintain critical services such as burn centers, level 1 trauma centers and neonatal ICU’s, our role is essential and profound. As I reviewed my speech, I thought a lot about UTMB Health specifically and the important role we serve in our own surrounding communities and beyond. In times of large scale emergencies or disasters, UTMB and its amazing physicians, nurses, residents and staff have been there, ready to respond. We also offer complex and costly programs such as organ transplants or heart and vascular cases as we continually work hard to serve those in need of exceptional patient care and service. With that in mind, I wanted to share part of the speech I delivered to the members of America’s Essential Hospitals during our conference because I think it really illustrates the broad spectrum of services and unique role hospitals and health systems like UTMB play in our communities. It also addresses some of the challenges we all face in the current climate of health care reform, and it emphasizes why the continued support of organizations like ours is so crucial...
  • Teachable Moments

    June 22, 2018, 09:25 AM by Donna K. Sollenberger
    I think I must be on a little bit of a “Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood” kick lately, as I had shared a story a couple of weeks ago about one piece of wisdom Fred Rogers once imparted on his show that stuck with me through the years. It was about sharing the blessings we have been given. As I started reading more about Mr. Roger's life, I came across something else he once said that resonated: “If you could only see how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”