YAM Notes: September/October 2015

By Rich Banbury

One highlight at the Reunion in May was a panel presentation entitled Healthcare Quality and Access: Looking to the Future. The medical professionals on the panel were Ray Crystal, Steve Kunitz, Larry Nazarian, and Bill Wiese, with Judge Barry Schaller as the moderator. Several important themes in the world of medicine were discussed among these seasoned physicians. Some of the observations were as follows. The practice of medicine is an art based on science, with a need to incorporate humanism, compassion and empathy, while respecting the autonomy of the patient. Physicians need to listen carefully to the patient and family, and when needed express truth with compassion. The core elements of the health system should be safety, effectiveness, patient-centered, and collaboration with the patient. Measures of the quality of care include access, prevention and treatment, avoidable hospital use and costs. Medical care is often challenging with patients who are engulfed in personal or social chaos, often fueled by mental illness, addictions and/or poverty. Strong social and medical supports can restore lives, reduce costs, and increase the lifespan of those who are currently trapped in this cycle. The ACA has created more access to medical care, but the overuse of emergency departments still exists. Following Barry’s panel, Dr. Thomas Lynch, ’82, ’86 MD, the director of the Yale Cancer Center, lectured on personalized and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. (Thanks to Barry and Harry Mazadoorian for educating me with regard to these presentations.)

Back in 1985, at a tiny theater in Los Angeles, Steve Baruch and his business partner discovered Penn & Teller, coaxing them to the Big Apple where they have become famous in the world of illusion, magic and wry humor. During the last 30 years, Steve and his partner have produced eighty-five shows internationally for this unique, entertaining and very talented duo. Add that to several other outstanding stage productions, including Hairspray, The Producers, and Angels in America. The quality of these productions is evidenced by Tony Awards in every category, including twice for both Best Play and Best Musical.

After nineteen years, Tim Ritchie has retired as chair of Class Agents, all of whom assist in reminding distracted classmates to send in their class dues. Tim has been succeeded by Terry Rothermel of Concord, Massachusetts. At the executive committee meeting in April, our Class Treasurer Bob Ackerman, who works in Lexington, reported that, on a pre-reunion basis, we had $45,000 in a safe place. Since Bob and Terry are geographically close, they can easily get together to discuss our financial issues over lunch. It only took Paul Revere three minutes on horseback.

Peter Green, our two-gun architect and author, is thriving in St. Louis. His mystery Crimes of Design, the first of his Patrick MacKenna mystery series, is available online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as by Kindle.

I’ve learned a new word from Chuck Schmitz. He glowingly speaks of the Aspinites, who are known in the land of the Les Aspin Summer Fellowships. To review, Les was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Wisconsin for eleven consecutive terms, and subsequently served as Secretary of Defense, having been appointed by President Bill Clinton on January 21, 1993. Those amazing Yale undergraduates who benefit by the fellowships are known in the lexicon as laureates, and have come to know each other as Aspinites. As Fritz Steele observed in a recent essay, the Aspinites have experienced “… a meaningful community experience where Aspin Fellows recognize, connect with, and learn from one another through a sense of common identity and shared purpose,” which overlap present and past classes. The laureates have ventured throughout the World, gaining practical knowledge in the areas of global affairs, international relations, national security, and similar fields of public service. Several of our classmates have assisted in the interviews, each of whom has been greatly impressed with the motivation and intelligence of all the candidates. Let it also be said for the record that the Branford and John Heinz summer fellowship programs are equal in every way with the Aspin Fellowships, with Arvin Murch as the leader over the entire tripartite phenomena.