Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Heart and Soul" Profiles Business with Compassionate Missions

Someone recently sent me a copy of Robert  L. Shook's "Heart and Soul"  (Benbella Books, 2010).

As a small business onwer who truly seeks to "do the right thing," I found it inspirational to read this review of several very large businesses that, while profitable, maintain a posture of doing good in the world. Shook, author of over fifty books, profiles InRETURN - a company which offers employment to brain injured individuals. He examines Starkey Laboratories, the world's largest manulacturer of custom hearing aids, and inventor of the first in-the-ear hearing aid. The Starkey Hearing foundation gives $50 million and 100,000 hearing aids each year to the world's underpriviledged.

The dialysis community will be interested in Shook's profile of DaVita, the company responsible for serving one-fouth of the United States' 450,000 people on dialysis. The company, whose name means "giving life" in Italian, underwent a major change in its corporate culture during an expansion period. The company focused on its "village," or community - seeking to treat its "teammates" like family members.

I was impressed by the company's emphasis on conveying to its staff the realities of living with ESRD. DaVita, for instance, features a "Reality 101" class for all of its teammates to help them appreciate the realities of living with renal failure.

Shook outlines a variety of global outreach missions, illustrating the saying, "they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

If any company should focus on the needs of its clients, it would be a Dialysis Company. Shook, beginning with his clear primer on End Stage Renal Disease, makes a compelling case for DaVita - and a corporate culture designed to support the end user of dialysis services.

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD


  1. My experiences with Davita have ranged from excellent to the scary bad. I think that while their corporate center talks a good game, the reality is that it is the local management of a center that is really in charge. If they are good and caring then you're likely to experience decent care. If they're not, then heaven help you. Ultimately, DaVita is a for-profit entity like the others and the bottom-line is ultimately the most important value in their book.

  2. Hi Miriam. Now that Steve has been in many of the hospitals in our system, I, too, have witnessed "excellent to the scary bad!" There is such a range of quality of care and caring. No matter where you are, you must be your own advocate - and you must have a powerful advocate for those times when you cannot advocate for yourself. One of the most frightening experiences we had was when Steve had a meart attach in a major center. He phoned me, and I was the first doctor on site - in spite of the fact that the place was crawling with physicians! Being a patient can be a very vulnerable circumstances. And when profit is a motive, it must be a shared motive with providing excellent patient care! Linda