Dr. Sanford Wright’s acceptance comments

(Dr. Sanford Wright’s acceptance of the Award named after him)

Jay –

Once I let my family, friends and colleagues know about the “Legacy Award”, I got back responses that I categorized as follows:

#1). LEGACY = DEAD (?)

Steve Barcott PA-C said: “Good news! I was able to move my departure date, so I will be able to attend. I have always wanted to see the “walking dead”.


Jens Chapman MD (Ortho Spine. Swedish. U of W spine chair) “Congrats Sanford. Well deserved.”


Tom Stonecipher MD (Everett Clinic Ortho/Spine) “Whoa! Legacy? Is there a check involved? I’ll buy you a whiskey at the Blue Moon Tavern to bask in your glory.”


Rob Haines (Everett Businessman) “You could put that on your resume!!! You can’t get any better than that!”

Somos Alixopulos RN (Post-op recovery) “Make sure someone video tapes it.”


Kathy Goff MD (Prov Cranial, Spine and Joint Clinic) “What are you doing with your time these days?”

If I may speak more seriously for a moment. I was told that this award in my name is being presented “To someone, who has been inspired to improve processes that allow us to see more patients, do more for patients that we serve and meet patient’s needs, while respecting the dignity and worth of every individual patient.” And this fits somewhat with a project that I had initiated, when I was a member of the Providence Medical Group Cranial Spine and Joint Clinic over a year ago.

We all know that our several hundred million dollar software system, EPIC, has many essential features – but one of them is not that of improving the quality and efficiency of the face time between providers and patients.

I’m now working with others on a project called “BestCarePath” that is intended to address this matter. Hopefully, later this year, I will be able to share with you the development of this new opportunity.

Recall that Kathy Goff asked “What are you doing with your time these days?” Since I retired from the hospital based surgical practice, I have begun transitioning to neurosurgical consultations and other work. This has given me more time to spend with my family. Within the past few weeks I’ve been able to drive my daughter, Dascha, to Kamiak High School at 6:30am and pick up my younger daughter, Mascha, at Mukilteo Elementary School at 4:15pm. This is the first time I can ever remember doing this.

Jay, you commented earlier about the seriousness of “physician burnout”. Perhaps a more full understanding of the motivation needed to practice medicine may be of some interest. Therefore, I would share with you and the others here tonight thoughts about the nature of the motivation that is required to care for patients. Both the “selfless” motivation of “helping others” that we all very much aware of. And, the “selfish” motivation that I became for fully aware of in recent years.
Over the nearly 40 years of my neurosurgical practice at Providence, I made a habit of visiting my patient’s twice a day/ 7 days week – and rarely a few home visits as well. Over those years I probably took few more vacations that you could count on one hand.

I think that when people see someone like myself doing this sort of thing, they might say that “That guy is really “selfless” – he is really motivated to help people’” But you know – the motivation may have been purely much more “selfish” than “selfless” much of the time! Let me explain.

For 18 years I’ve produced “The Christmas Spectacular” – the last show was a month ago. Prior to the recent focus of “Make A Wish of Alaska and Washington”, for several years the focus had been on children with special needs.

Jocelin Meadow was one of these children. I had a wonderful Russian violinist, Artem Savchenko, compose a special piece of music. He flew from Moscow and stood on the stage of the Civic Auditorium. He played while Jocelin danced with a very fine young Russian instructor, Alexey Gavrilov.

I finally confronted Jocelin’s mother, Barbara. I said, “Look, I probably shouldn’t say this, but my motivation to help your daughter may be very ‘selfish’! I really did all these things for your daughter because it made me feel so good – so rewarded!” I was expecting her to be insulted – mad. But instead she laughed and laughed. She finally exclaimed, “I feel the same way sometimes!” We both agreed that our motivation for helping others need not only be “selfless” – but can sometimes be downright very “selfish” as well!

To sum things up I can never thank Jay and the other members of the Executive Committee enough for this priceless honor of the Sanford Wright Legacy Award. (Could all the members of the Executive Committee please stand up). I’m sure that my children and children’s children will talk about tonight’s event down through the generations.

Thank you. SJW

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