If we’re lucky in our quest for fulfilling work, we’ll discover a mentor, someone who can guide us to the right path. A person who can let us know that regardless of what’s going on in the world, we are able to take off those blinders that represent “purpose and mission” and proceed. I was lucky enough to meet the mentor, guide, and friend, when I got to know Professor. Leland R. Kaiser.
Dr. Leland (Lee) R. Kaiser was a role model to many who wanted to create an improved community’s future. He was so in the forefront of technology, and in time both professionally and personally.
Meeting Our Inspirational Friend
My partner Dallas and I first met Lee at the beginning of 1989 while we performed in the Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nevada, as part of the Music in Residence program that I created. The program allowed us to stay in different units in the hospitals for as long as 8 hours across shifts, meals and enough time to get beyond that “entertainment” factor. When he entered the unit and listened to the music, he was immediately aware of what we were doing by creating the perfect relaxing environment.
He understood exactly the importance of healing environments and how important they were (and remain) for the healing of both the patient and caregiver. Lee was able to sense that the importance of music was more important in importance than what we did on and the instruments we played. The man believed in power of your instincts, to ensure it is that “doing what is right” can be a genuine ethical principle.
Sparking Change Through Innovative Thinking
Lee Kaiser was a systems thinker. He was a frequent speaker on the subject and utilized systems thinking as the basis for describing the future of healthier communities and hospitals. He showed us that all living things are interconnected and that we all have an impact on our lives in the present and the future as well as the health of each one. There is no separation.
The hospital was for him an institution for community as well as a cultural centre and, the most important thing was that it was more than just a place for suffering and illness. Lee always believed that Boards of Directors at every hospital should see themselves as leaders of the community in ensuring to the wellbeing of patients children, seniors, and kids in their care and trust.
With this empathy He argued that each Hospital’s Board of Directors visit people living near the hospital due to the significant impact hospitals can are having on the communities they serve, and particularly on their neighbors. Lee always said, Lee always stated, “You are neighbors to all who live within sight from your facility. Are you aware of what they’re up to? Do they have any needs? If their children are doing well?”
He was of the opinion that getting to know real people, who require attention and concern will change the way that hospitals budget their resources and the way they carry out the values embraced by their healthcare providers.
A Legacy of “Healing Health Care”
in 1989 the phrase “healing health care” was born out of an event hosted by Washoe Medical Center. At that time, the participants, a few hundred, were focused on the upcoming “Reno-Sparks 2000” which prioritized the health of the state and community than the data indicated. “Healing Health Care,” as defined, was a type of healthcare in which it “heals as well as treats.” It referred to the whole person and the social factors that affect health.
In the aftermath, there was a call to form an organisation that would make all-person health care the goal of demonstrating how health care can be healed in practice. Lee’s example Lee provided was a patient who arrives at the ED with broken legs, which is treated, however, the patient’s diabetes and alcoholism are not addressed, even though these two issues played a role in the injury. So, the patient’s foot had been “fixed,” but the patient was not fully healed.
The Association of Healing HealthCare Projects (AHHC) was established in Reno with only a handful of community nurses, leaders and community members as well as Leland Kaiser serving as our mentor and guiding us to the bigger perspective than we would be able to perceive. He advised us to be an online organization that does not be entangled with the bureaucracy that comes with being an non-profit. Instead, we should focus on proactive measures and practices which would make our institutions and communities healthier. Our goal consisted of “heal ourselves, our relationships, and our communities.”
Lee asked us to establish an association to create a system in which healing was as crucial as treating or curing are distinct, and when wholeness was the most important thing.
Building a Community of Healthcare Catalysts
AHHC hosted 13 national conferences. Lee was a speaker at all of them. The conference was about demonstrating how healing health care can be achieved without redefining it and, in turn, limiting what it can be. The aim was to showcase what healing treatment is like, feels like, looks like, and the outcomes of health care that heals and cures.
The mission is “To heal ourselves, our relationships, and our communities” in the broadest sense of what phrases could mean.
He advised us that if created a membership-based organization and we create non-members. He would inquire each once “Is that what we want to do?” We were essential without any budget and without any goals other than the notion of healing healthcare as a noble ideal that needed to be achieved in the hospital bed. Every conference was sponsored by a hospital that was up for the task of demonstrating its own vision for “healing health care.”
He wrote “A Visionary is a self-fulfilling prophet. Don’t try to predict the future. Make it.” This tragedy prompted us to act and to bravely step into the vastness of healthcare with humility and determination, and create promises of healthcare which heals as well as treats become a fact.
Putting the Healing in Healthcare
It’s difficult to describe all the ways Lee had an impact on our lives as well as his work at Healing HealthCare Systems. In June 1992, we were contacted by the request of an organization that was a non-profit healthcare facility for the mentally ill in Georgia to supply music to their patients. We were touring and made a stop to visit Lee as well as his spouse Betty at their home in Colorado. Our company was named in Lee’s home , with his approval and knew it was a given that “healing health care” would come in many forms. Healing Healthcare Systems is our most defining statement of our commitment to create environments that are healing for every patient no matter where they are. We’ve never lost sight of the essence of our work, which is more than the strategic plan, and more than any other product or service.
As time passed it appeared that it took long to get the work we believed was crucial to improve patients’ experiences and outcomes for humans. We would call him periodically to inquire about what time it would take to get our work acknowledged and appreciated. He would reply, “Oh… you are a little ahead of where healthcare is now.” He would think, “It will take about five years.” In accordance to his word Five months later we conceived our vision for The C.A.R.E. Channel. He was aware of the dynamic environment that humans create for themselves and the power of music in creating and creating a space for the spirit to flourish regardless of whether the body healing.
In Memory of a Friend and Healthcare Icon
The Kaiser family lost Lee on the 4th of January of this year aged the 82nd year. His daughter Leanne and son Kevin Kaiser will carry on his work. All of us who work in healthcare are responsible for continuing the legacy of our leaders, mentors and those who inspire us to continue our efforts to heal beyond the scope of healthcare.
Lee We appreciate your kindness and professionalism. We thank you for your wisdom and insight you have shared that continue to push healthcare towards an improved future.