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Out & About in Cleveland

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City Club Panel and a night in the Heart of Europe in Parma

On Friday, November 7th, our first event was a panel discussion at the City Club titled "Healthcare Delivery: From Volume to Value" featuring Dr. Alan Hirsch (University Hospitals), Dr. Alfred F. Connors, Jr. (Metrohealth System), Dr. Gisele Robinson Greene (Sisters of Charity Health System), and Dr. David L. Longworth (Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic). It was moderated by Ms. Sarah Jane Tribble, Health Reporter/Producer at WCPN. What impressed us the most was the good things that were said about the Affordable Care Act (ACA); often times on our travels we encounter groups/people that are so opposed to it that we risk a confrontation if we say anything good about it at all.

According to the panel, the biggest thing that the ACA has done is to force American medicine to re-evaluate itself and move from a system whose emphasis was treating people after they became ill to a system that is more consumer oriented with an emphasis on keeping people well. Needless to say this will take a long time but Dr. Greene stated that Sisters of Charity is retooling their clinical operations, upgrading their technology and fervently working on their social delivery of health care so people can have quality care at the lowest possible cost.

Dr. Longworth said that this was the most transformative time in health care in the last 50 years. Dr. Hirsch said that they are looking more at what they patient wants now and "studying the Ritz Carlton" in terms of customer service.

Doctors of the future, as well as those of today, are being taught to listen to what the patient wants and have more empathy for where the patient is coming from. All agreed that more emphasis is now being placed on assisting the patient after he/she returns home to ensure that he/she is eating the right foods, taking his/her medicine, and returns for appointments. All agreed that even though the ACA is very controversial, to say the least, they would not be having this important discussion without it and in ten years the amount of changes made will be astonishing.

We had several friends there at this program and they asked very pertinent questions. Ms. Meryl Johnson asked about health classes in the schools. Mr. Marty Gelfand talked about the excellent health care that he had received at the local VA and wanted to know what the providers were learning from the VA system. Mr. Ryan Ouellette from the Cleveland Council of World Affairs wanted to know what the panelists thought of the single-payer initiative that had just won in Vermont.

Afterwards we spoke to Dr. Connors (who knows Ms. Wong and says hello to her) about what was being done to help make health care more accessible to immigrants who have limited English proficiency. Dr. Connors told us that Metrohealth was really striving to provide effective translators and is working with translatory phones that make it possible for people with language barriers to communicate. What's more, there has been a lot of outreach into the Hispanic and Asian communities of Northeast Ohio.

We shared a table with Ms. Dorothie Haygood, Ms. Jennifer K. Justi (wife of Mr. Alex Kelemen who works with a translation company that has worked with Margaret W. Wong and Associates) and Ms. Sheila M. Dessau all from the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging. Also at our table was Mr. Ray Corby of Array Architects that designs medical facilities such as the just completed St. John's in Westlake.

Moreover we had a good conversation with Dr. James E. Greene, a dentist who is the husband of Dr. Giselle Robinson Greene who was on the panel. Dr. James E. Greene said that he felt that the ACA was good because he often has to deal with the unemployed and the low income and because of the ACA, these people have access to health insurance for the first time in their lives. He estimated that 50% of the people he deals with had never had a health insurance possible before and are very proud to have it now. In fact, some of them are now seeing a dentist for the very first time in their lives.

Our two other events for Friday were at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and at the DoubleTree Hotel both on Rockside Road just a few blocks from each other which enabled us to run back and forth between them. We feel that we caught the essence of each of them, though.

First of all, we went to the Crowne Plaza for the 2014 Annual National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) Celebration and Fundraising event which we had attended last year at this location also. As soon as we walked in Ms. Lisa Graciani, VP of Corporate Relations, walked up to us and said that she remembered us from last year and were glad that Ms. Wong sent a representative.

We shared a table with Mr. Craig Caroff who is the Principal of Hinckley Elementary School in Medina and his wife, Ms. Kristin Laughlin who is a very good friend of our Judy Wong. Also at our table were Ms. Alyssa Auld who is the Founder of the Adonis Foundation and Mr. Ruben Rodriguez who works there also. Joining us was Ms. Patricia Ochoa who immigrated to the United States from Mexico and used to teach elementary school in Texas. She moved to Cleveland with her family and would love to go back to teaching once her teaching certificate is updated. All of us had a discussion about what the best way is to teach a new language to people.

During the program, Ms. Claudia Silvana Ochoa, the Cleveland Chapter President, talked about the goals of the NSHMBA which are "to empower Hispanics to achieve their fullest educational, social and economic potential."

The keynote speaker of the evening was Ms. Carmen A. Heredia-Lopez who, until recently, was the Chief Investment Officer of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. She will soon be starting to work for the Kellogg Foundation. During her speech, Ms. Heredia-Lopez talked about how NSHMBA helped her make the contacts that aided her in her career advancement. She said that we are the leafs and NSHMBA is like the tree trunk that holds them together. At one point in her presentation, she took off her shoes and challenged the younger members to fill them someday. During the course of her talk she said that two of the keys to a successful organization were diversity and respectful disagreement which helps a team to grow.

Among the other people we talked to were Mr. Luis Cartagena from the Minority Business Development Agency in Cleveland and Mr. Muhamed Sadek of the Cleveland Clinic who has referred several clients to Ms. Margaret W. Wong over the years.

As we were leaving we stopped and talked to Ms. Ronnie L. Marquez-Posey, VP of Marketing and Public Relations for NSHMBA, who happily told us that she had hooked up with Ms. Heredia-Lopez through Linked-In some time ago and invited her to come to this event, and Ms. Heredia-Lopez surprisingly, at least to Ms. Marquez-Posey, said that she would.

Then we went to the DoubleTree Hotel for the 2014 Gala and Fundraiser for Asian Services in Action (ASIA). We saw a lot of people there that we knew like Mr. Michael Byun, the President of Asian Services in Action; Ms. Elaine Tso, Committee Chair for this event; Mr. Jason Nguyen, the son of Le Nguyen who was acting as emcee for the evening; and Ms. Sibley Strader who greeted us very warmly with a hug.

The mission of ASIA is mission is "to empower and advocate for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders (AAPIs); and to provide AAPIs access to quality, culturally, and linguistically appropriate information and services." While we were there it was mostly socializing, entertainment, dinner and auctions but a very effective film was shown on behalf of the Fund for Interpreting and Translation Services in which Ms. Mao Vue and Ms. Cathy Vue talked about how difficult it was for them and their families to settle in the United States due to the language barrier thus they feeling that Interpretive/Translatory services are vital.

We sat with Ms. Joon Li-Kim who taught poetry in summer school through the Asian Services program; Mr. Gregory Oznowich, Design Director of Nesnadny Schwartz and his wife, Ms. Barbi McCann, Asst. Executive Director of the University Suburban Health Center; Mr. Nick Cacciacarro and Ms. Janel Lazoran, two very committed people who work for the United Food and Commerical Workers Union Local 880; and Mr. Robert Gudbranson who once referred someone to Margaret W. Wong and Associates and has known her for years.

We felt touched when Mr. Grant G. Goodrich, Director of Regional Strategy Implementation for Fund for Our Economic Future, walked over to say hello to us as well as introduce us to his wife. We met first met Mr. Goodrich months ago when he was working on behalf of the passage of Issue 7 which dealt with maintaining Cleveland's sports facilities.

Some of the most entertaining moments of the evening occurred during the auction because the auctioneer, Mr. Buddy Barton was a real pro who talked so fast and so melodiously that someone thought he was singing at one point. Among the items auctioned off were a day with the young Jeopardy star Mr. Arthur Chu.

And it was the second day in a row that we attended an event where Mr. Vince E. Cononico, Attorney at Law in Cleveland was also in attendance. We saw him the previous evening at the Women In Law, Making a Difference gathering at the Union Club.


On Saturday, November 8th, our event for the day was the 2014 Lucina Slovak Gala "An Evening in the Heart of Europe" which took place at the Holy Spirit Party Center on East 54th Street in Parma. It featured terrific dancers, tasty food, and good conversation.

We were indeed thankful that we attended the October meeting of Cleveland Bratislava Sister Cities, Inc. because Mr. Tom Ivanec, the Director of the Lucina Slovak Folklore Ensemble spoke there about how the troupe came to be founded, its history and what they are doing at the present time. If we hadn't have attended that meeting, we would not have appreciated what we saw on Saturday night as much.

The program notes contained a paragraph or two about Mr. Ivanec and Lucina which read, "Lucina gives a big thank you to our director, Tom Ivanec. The idea for a Slovak dance troupe began for Tom in the mid-1970's with a question he asked himself at a local Slovak function while watching an out-of-town Slovak dance group perform. 'Why didn't Cleveland have this?' His interest in Slovak dance was further fed by a growing interest in reconnecting with his Slovak ancestry. In 1981, the Lucina Slovak Folklore Ensemble was born, with he and his late wife Cindy as two of the first, principal dancers...he is still proud to be a part of Lucina, with its young, enthusiastic dancers, dedicated parents, and receptive audiences...Our future goal, as an organization is to preserve and promote the Slovak culture."

At dinner we sat between Mr. William Northrup, Corresponding Secretary of Cleveland Bratislava Sister Cities, Inc., and Dr. John H. Whitehouse, Jr. of Western Reserve Psychometric Services. We see Mr. Northrup all of the time at the Sister Cities meeting but we welcomed the opportunity to get to know him better and also liked getting to know Dr. Whitehouse who we had not met before. One of the other people at our table told a humorous story about how his late grandmother immigrated to the United States from Slovakia in 1903 because a friend of hers declined to make the journey at the last minute so the grandmother made use of the other woman's paperwork and passed through Ellis Island successfully; the family was always concerned about the grandmother's legal identity issues throughout her life and didn't even want to take her to Canada because they were afraid something would go wrong and the grandmother might still get in trouble.

As vegetarians, alas we couldn't eat the part of the dinner that consisted of Breaded Pork Chops, Beef Burgundy, and Stuffed Cabbage but we had more than our share of Romaine Salad and Green Bean Almondine. And yes, we had a couple more potato pierogis than we should have had.

All that we can say about the dancers was that were very deserving of the wonderful reputation that they have. Their discipline, energy and joy as well as their artistic flair are to be admired. We took several photos which will be posted.

At the beginning of the evening, we had time to walk around and meet several people that we had never met before. First there was Mr. Eddie Fisher who was quick to tell us that he is no relation to the 1950's singer who also had that name who was married to Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor and Connie Stevens but not at the same time. Mr. Fisher had heard of Ms. Margaret W. Wong, though, and said that "she does innumerable people a great service." In fact, years ago he suggested Ms. Wong to a friend of his whose wife had immigrated to the United States from the Philippines and was experiencing difficulties which were eventually worked out.

We took a picture of a small child wearing a Lucina t-shirt. We talked to his grandmother, Ms. Debi Snyder for a moment and it turned out that she is the mother of Ms. Michelle Snyder who accompanied Ms. Wong when she made a pilgrimage to Lourdes about ten years ago. The little boy is named Joseph and his grandmother told us that he wasn't at all intimidated by the large crowd. What's more, he loves to get out there and dance with the big boys.

We really liked talking to retired Kent State Professor Rudy Bachna (86 years old and sharper than ever) who taught physical education and started the gym team at Kent State 56 years ago in 1959 which, as Professor Bachna proudly said, "is still going strong!" Professor Bachna's parents both immigrated to the United States from Slovakia; his mother came in 1906 and his father came in 1913. Both of them came from a small town named Jabalonica just north of the capital. They settled in Cleveland and his father founded the Bachna Photography Studio which lasted for 40 years. Professor Bachna started a sister city with a town name Dudince which is 40 miles north of Budapest. He has known Mr. Ivanec for many years and even announced a concert that Lucina did at Kent State years ago.

We look forward to going to the Cleveland-Bratislava Sister Cities, Inc. program this Monday night at the Garfield Heights Library. The speaker will be Father Michael Brunovsky of St. Andrew Abbey who will talk about the historical movement for Slovak National Autonomy. Mr. Northrup told us that Father Brunovsky is an impressive scholar. We met Mr. Paul Brunovsky who is not only that father of Fr. Michael Brunovsky but he has another son who is a priest too. We asked Mr. Brunovsky about the meeting on Monday and he smiled and said that he planned to be there.

Out & Aboutimwong