Scott Street, president and CEO of Mercy Northwest Arkansas, had an intimate conversation with roughly 450 people Thursday night (Feb. 7) as he encouraged each one to educate themselves on the ever-changing health care landscape.
He shared stories of chicken feathers and snow while talking health care and blessings.
“I could stand up here and talk all night long about where I think health care is going and the changes underway. And about 40% of you would be interested but the other 60% has already hit the snooze button,” Street said in his opening remarks as the keynote speaker at the Bentonville Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce dinner in Rogers.
Street told the group he opted to have a conversation with the crowd, not deliver some canned speech but rather address a few questions given to him by folks in the audience earlier that evening.
Question No. 1: Street was asked to share his perspective on changing health care
Street said he was a proud of his Arkansas upbringing and professed to be a little bit redneck and little bit hillbilly, growing up in Mountain Home. But for several years he worked out of state.
“About four years ago when I was making the drive from Oklahoma up I-540 to interview at Mercy, I was taken back by the beautiful landscapes that I saw. I was reminded of the long road trips as a child over the mountains following the snow makers. ... As I was driving up 540 behind a line of semi’s snow began to fall, it was a beautiful site. When I pulled around the semi I saw four more lined up and it so reminded me of those days as kid. Now for those who of you who don’t know what a snowmaker is -- well it’s a chicken truck and what I thought was snow, was actually chicken feathers. So what does that have to do with health care in America? I will try to tie the two together for you,” Street said.
He said Obamacare is rapidly changing the entire landscape of health care and he encouraged everyone in the room to be educated about the issues.
“Don’t just listen to me or others talk about where health care is going, we often preach a negative tone and there is good and bad. But be educated and speak up if you don’t like what you are seeing. If you are seeing more chicken feathers than snow then stand up and speak out so that health care can survive and continue to thrive in this country. We need to run as far from socialized health care as possible,” Street said.
Question No. 2: Why did Street chose a health care profession?
From a young age, seventh grade, Street recalled, that he knew someday he would run a hospital.
“Not your typical thought as a seventh grader,” Street admitted.
But he told the group he was called into the profession and faith-based health care at a young age and the Sister of Mercy model is a perfect fit for him.
“I like the balance at Mercy between the business and ministry,” Street said.
He quoted a mission statement from the Mercy Board that says sums it up: “If we don’t attend to the business our doors will close. If we don’t attend to the ministry someone should close our doors.”
Question No. 3: What would Street like to change about himself ?
Street joked that his wife would have a long list, but said something he felt led to do is to pause and be more grateful.
“I would think about blessings more often, because we don’t do that enough. Between the meetings, the phone calls, email, iPhone, iPads, Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, Linked-on, Linked-Over and whatever else distracts us, we don’t pause and take time to be grateful,” Street said.
In closing, Street read a poem he received from his sister a few years ago prior to her untimely death.
“It’s always been very special to me and it’s entitled ‘The Dash’ ( by Linda Ellis)”, he said.
“I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of his friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning...to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth…
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard…
are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left.
That can still be rearranged
If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
and more often wear a smile…
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy’s being read
with your life’s actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent your dash?”
No chamber banquet is complete until the coveted awards are handed out to a new group of civic and professional leaders. This year's award recipients are listed below.
2012 Chamber Awards
Teachers of Year
Telecomp and Roger Thomas
Peter Christie and NCR.
Rabbit Dickerson Award
Mary Mae Jones
R.E. (Ed) Buck Award
Hight Jackson Architects