Editor’s Notebook: Thank you, Don

Editor’s Notebook: Thank you, Don

Editor, susan.psqh@gmail.com

I voted for Don Berwick in September and wish I could have done so again in November. A political first-timer, founder and previously CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Don ran a vigorous campaign to become the Democratic candidate for governor of Massachusetts, my home state. He surprised many by making it to the primary ballot. According to National Public Radio station WBUR, he “rocketed from near-zero name recognition among general voters to 21 percent at the polls”1 in September but failed to prevail over long-time Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. Republican Charlie Baker won the governor’s race in November by a slim margin.

In his campaign, Don took bold stands and raised the bar for intelligent, respectful debate of contentious issues. He advocated adopting single-payer healthcare and overturning the state’s commitment to building casinos.

Having heard Don speak many times at IHI’s National Forum and other healthcare events, I was excited to witness his energy and passion applied to other challenges. I was especially intrigued to hear Don apply what I know as the tools and science of quality improvement to civic issues such as transportation and housing. I’ve always felt that the lessons of safety and quality improvement apply universally, not just to healthcare. There’s no one better suited to do that than Don.

As this issue goes to press, and I make final plans to attend this year’s National Forum, Don’s speech to his supporters on the night of the primary election is still available online. The quality of the video is not great, but the familiar, sincere power of Don’s message comes through. Not many candidates begin their “concession” speeches saying (with enthusiasm and not a hint of sarcasm), “My goodness, I hope you all get to run for governor some day!”

In the speech, Don restates his campaign’s mission to “reduce suffering.” Committed to social justice, equality, and compassion, Don knows that the problems he focused on in his campaign transcend election cycles: “The homeless veteran was homeless yesterday and will be homeless tomorrow.” Don encourages his supporters to believe that solutions to society’s problems are known and available: “The solutions are there. They are in our hands and in our experience…What we need is will.” Don’s dedication to justice and improvement will continue to make a difference.

Carr, S. (2014). Thank you, Don. [Editor’s notebook]. Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare, 11(6), 6.


Due to an editing error, the authors are listed incorrectly for a feature article in the print edition of the September/October issue. Patricia Patrician, PhD, RN, was omitted and should have been listed as the third author for “Best Practices for Conducting an RCA: Are There Any?”