The theme for the first Baylor Health Care System Foundation board of directors meeting of the new (2017) fiscal year may have been “Integrative Medicine: Leveraging New Perspectives for a Healthy Body, Mind and Spirit.” But it was apparent at the Tuesday, September 20th quarterly board meeting that the Foundation itself is in pretty good health, too.
Sporting a new white beard he called “an August project,” Foundation President Robin Robinson told the luncheon meeting that the organization now had raised more than $581 million for the healthcare system since its founding. The foundation has a new tagline—“Let’s Move Mountains”—Robin disclosed, and the last fiscal year was its best ever in fundraising terms. Thirty-seven million dollars came through the doors, he said, or 128 percent of the goal. The foundation also distributed $43 million to the system during the 2016 fiscal year, Robin said, bringing total disbursements over five years to $175 million.
Board Chair Margo Goodwin had good news for the board members as well. The foundation’s most recent annual Grand Rounds golf tournament was a record-breaker, Margo announced, with 229 golfers helping raise $290,000. Board giving during the last fiscal year enjoyed 100 percent participation, she went on, with 20 percent of the board members ponying up more than $25,000.
Margo also talked briefly about the responsibilities of new foundation board members. The “Class of 2017” members are: Kenneth Aboussie Jr., Barry Andrews, Norm Bagwell, Mike Barnett, Hal Brierley, Darlene Cass, Robert Dozier, Graciela Garton M.D., Jim Lozier, Holt Lunsford, Gloria Martindale, Amy Mueller (ex-officio), Michal Powell, Bruce Robson, Ken Schnitzer, Jill Smith, Bob Thomas, Amy Turner and John Yeaman.
Following lunch and a brief report from Joel Allison, the health system’s outgoing CEO—Joel said Baylor had acquired another medical center in Austin, and finalists to succeed him should be disclosed by late October—Dr. Carolyn Matthews delivered a keynote talk about how “chronic illness is burdening” the American health system in general, and what can be done about it.
Chronic illnesses such as depression, obesity (67 percent of us are overweight or obese), cancer, diabetes (10 percent of us have it), and asthma require repeated treatment, Dr. Matthews explained, and 50 percent of adults will suffer from at least one of them. But the good news, she stressed, is that all of these chronic illnesses are “very modifiable” with exercise, sleep, and a proper diet.
Several habits will help reduce your risk for chronic illness, continued Dr. Matthews, who is Director of Integrative and Functional Medicine at the Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center. Those habits include: refraining from smoking; eating five servings of fruits and vegetables per day; doing some sort of physical activity (150 minutes per week is recommended, even if it’s just walking); and aiming for seven to eight hours of restful sleep per night.
During a Q&A session near the end of the meeting, someone asked Dr. Matthews why eating right seems to be so difficult for so many. “Because the vast majority of food in the grocery store is not real food,” she replied. “The quality of our food is not as good as it was 50 years ago,” she continued, citing “genetically modified food” among other trends. Ideally everyone would eat organic food if they could afford it, Dr. Matthews concluded, but, at a minimum, the meat you eat should be grass-fed and any fish should be of the small variety, like salmon.
* Photos provided by Baylor Health Care System Foundation