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What we can do to improve health care

Michael Barnes, Out & About

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Without health, there is nothing. Without money, in our society, there is no health care. Speeches at two recent medical meals reminded Austinites what we can do.

Lee Walker, sharp cookie, once said that, if the People's Community Clinic were a publicly traded company, he'd buy stock. Addressing the clinic's faithful, demographer Steve Murdock flashed dozens of slides about Texas and the U.S. during a benefit lunch at the Renaissance Hotel. His crushing numbers showed how we are changing, ethnically, and that we'll need vastly increased education, jobs and health care.

Health advocate Dr. Nona Niland, recognized by the assembly, explained why the clinic deserves such a big role in taking care of those in need.

The next day, the University Medical Center Brackenridge held its luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel. It turned into a noisy cheerleading session for the vast, interlocking plan to create a medical school, teaching hospital, research facilities, modern community clinics and more in the near future.

State Sen. Kirk Watson, whose policy focus is his "10 Goals in 10 Years" plan, gave a rousing speech and assured the assembled that action was under way in Austin and Washington at a rapid pace. Civic leader Clarke Heidrick, the day's honoree, delved into why the plan's deliberative phase was over. Heidrick is no starry-eyed dreamer. The leader who helped created Central Health, a huge player in this top-to-bottom plan, is a very careful man, yet he gave 10 in 10 his blessing.

"We can do it," says Seton's Sister Helen Brewer. "We must do it. It's the right thing to do."

Contact Michael Barnes at mbarnes@statesman.com