Just say No – How Not to Cancel a Meeting – Part 1

The Promise

December 20th, 2014 was Dr. Nabil El Sanadi’s first day as Broward Health’s new CEO.  Previous to his first day, I had been promised time to visit with Dr. El Sanadi by Dr. El Sanadi himself as well as members of his Board of Commissioners.  This promise was the result of four years of interaction between current and previous board members and senior staff on a number of initiatives with which there was both broad and strong support.  I was worried that, with the transition to a new CEO, some – if not all, the momentum for these initiatives would be lost.

I also wanted to take the measure of this new CEO, to look him in the eye and get a sense of his commitment to the public he was now to serve and to share with him some of the public efforts that had preceded his appointment.  I had been told that administratively, he was all smoke and no fire – I didn’t want to believe it at the time.

No Obligation

While there was no obligation for Dr. El Sanadi to meet with me as a member of the public, I do have a 30+ year history of civic activism and governmental public policy advisory experience, and I am a current member of the Broward County Health Planning Council.  And they promised.


A Pocket of Excellence

At this point I need to introduce you to a truly magnificent lady who is a consummate professional.  A lady who has served a number of Broward Health CEO’s with both dignity and class.  That lady is Maryanne Wing and you will see her name in the emails below.  Apparently because of Dr. El Sanadi’s discomfort with technology, in particular emails, Ms. Wing has been given the responsibility to receive and on direction, respond to communications directed at Dr. El Sanadi.  This is not entirely uncommon and in public enterprises is normally used to preserve correspondence to and from the CEO as a public record.

Here’s what happened when I emailed Dr. El Sanadi’s office for an appointment, through Maryanne Wing.

From: Dan Lewis
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 4:35 PM
To: Wing, Maryanne
Cc: ‘David Di Pietro’
Subject: Appointment with Dr. El Sanadi

Good afternoon Maryanne,Please let me know when it would be convenient for me to meet with Dr. El Sanadi on a variety of matters.  I would estimate that we will need an hour.Thank you.
Dan Lewis

From: Wing, Maryanne
Sent: Saturday, January 31, 2015 12:41 PM
To: Dan Lewis
Subject: RE: Appointment with Dr. El Sanadi

Mr. Lewis,

Can you please let me know what is the purpose, intent and the agenda for your requested meeting.

Nabil El Sanadi MD

From: Dan Lewis
Sent: Monday, February 2, 2015 10:09 AM
To: ‘Wing, Maryanne’
Cc: ‘David Di Pietro’

Subject: RE: Appointment with Dr. El Sanadi

Dr. El Sanadi,

Purpose, intent & agenda;

For reasons we can discuss, I have made a commitment to help make Broward Health the finest public health care system in the country.  Broward Health is a system with pockets of excellence and layers of incompetence.  To effectively meet the challenges of the organization, it must find bold and inventive strategies to grow its pockets of excellence and melt away its layers of incompetence. These strategies must be both internal and external to the organization and administrative and political in their nature.

My purpose, and intent in meeting with you is to afford both of us the opportunity to get to know each other in a frank and useful exchange of ideas.  This exchange will help me understand the extent with which I will be able to work with him to fulfill what I hope is a shared commitment for excellence.

Informal Agenda:

  1. Incomplete initiatives:
    1. Intensivist program
    2. Centralized credentialing
    3. Centralized EMR & CPOE training
    4. Multi-level alliance w/ the Memorial System for Health Care services to all public employees in the county including:
      1. County government
      2. Constitutional Officers
      3. Municipalities
      4. Taxing Districts
      5. Non Profits
      6. Unions
  2. Procurement Policy
  3. Board Liaison Position
  4. Broward Health as a Teaching & Research Hospital
  5. Internships
  6. The Nova strategy as extended to FIU
  7. The Ambassador’s Program
  8. Tri-County Physician Marketing
  9. Board Policies:
    1. Eliminate committees, conduct all business at meetings;
    2. All board questions through CEO to staff
    3. Audit Reports, like management reports, provided to staff for response before going to Board.
    4. Executive Officer liaison to Board to review all agenda items with individual board members prior to Board meetings.
    5. New procurement code.
    6. New policy on agenda items e.g. who can place items on the agenda, timelines for agenda items, etc..  All board members must be allowed to place items on the agenda.  Agenda items must be moved and seconded before discussion and motions.
  10. FLCCN

I hope that this agenda is sufficient for you to find time in your busy schedule to meet with me.  I too have a busy schedule, but I will make the time to meet with you when it is convenient for you.

Dan Lewis

The Phone Message

It is said that character is what you do when you think no one is looking.  After I sent my requested informal agenda to Dr. Sanadi, I received a remarkable phone message.  Listen to it here.

After I returned his call and left a message, I received a phone conference invitation below.  It was for Dr. El Sanadi plus unknown additional participants and me:

From: Wing, Maryanne
Sent: Monday, February 2, 2015 11:39 AM
To: Dan Lewis
Subject: Conference Call with Dan Lewis and Dr. El Sanadi

When: Wednesday, February 4, 2015 9:15 AM-9:45 AM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada).
Where: 1-800-508-6095 passcode 7685335 moderator code 2836893

To resolve my confusion from Dr. El Sanadi’s curious response to my simple request for a convenient meeting time, I sent the following email.

From: Dan Lewis
Sent: Monday, February 2, 2015 10:09 AM
To: ‘Wing, Maryanne’
Cc: ‘David Di Pietro’
Subject: RE: Conference Call with Dan Lewis and Dr. El Sanadi

Good afternoon Maryanne,This morning, almost immediately after I sent my requested meeting purpose and proposed agenda, I received a curious voice message from Dr. Sanadi, and immediately returned his call.  He was not available so I left word that I returned his call.  Now you send me a notice of a conference call.

While I am delighted to be invited to participate in a conference call with Dr. El Sanadi – I am confused.  Is this call instead of my requested individual and private meeting with Dr. El Sanidi?

Therefore, could you please send me the agenda, and a list of the participants who will be on this call before I confirm my attendance?

As always, thank you!
Dan Lewis

Although I was out of the office at the time the conference call was to take place, I nevertheless excused myself from my meeting and signed on to the call anyway.  After waiting a few minutes, I signed off the call only to later find out that the call had been unilaterally canceled an hour before by Dr. El Sanadi.  What?

How hard is it to just say no?

In “Just say No – How Not to Cancel a Meeting – Part 2”  I received an ostensibly threatening letter from Broward Health’s corporate counsel just for asking for a convenient time for a promised meeting.  Look for Part 2 on Wednesday, April 22nd.