Entitled Healthcare and Social Philanthropy, the latest face-to-face educational and networking event presented by the Cornell Club of Miami was held at the MARC Institute in Doral, FL on November 17, 2022. The guest speakers were Alex Counts, author of Small Loans Big Dreams and Dr. Alejandro Badia, renowned orthopedic hand surgeon and author of Healthcare From the Trenches. Both speakers received their undergraduate degrees from Cornell University and are fraternity brothers.
Mr. Counts, who has devoted his career to entrepreneurial philanthropy and has also authored three other books, kicked off the program with a dynamic and engaging presentation.
First, he defined his approach as “using business methods to advance social change.” Despite his academic credentials and visionary approach, getting started in philanthropy wasn’t a cakewalk. “If I ask for $10.6 million, will they call security?” he asked himself during his first fundraising pitch to a potential donor. Mr. Counts’ formative years in philanthropy were spent under the tutelage of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus. He ultimately made his mark in the Micro Finance space in Bangladesh, helping women in a third world country build businesses. He offered this sage advice: “When fundraising, never be apologetic or hesitant.” Despite formidable hurdles and a colleague who ended his career by suicide, Mr. Counts ultimately succeeded. Despite his triumph, he remains humble. “As an adult, it’s important to take on new projects where you have no experience,” he asserts. “You learn something new and you also learn not to take yourself too seriously.” He then went on to describe an almost comical adventure where he managed the fan club for a Blue Grass band. Mr. Counts also offered this piece of wisdom for would-be fundraisers: “If you are doing most of the talking, that is not good! Get them talking and sharing their passion. Get the amount of money you are going to ask for on the table within the first ten minutes.” And finally, an insight for all was tendered, “When apologizing, never include an ‘if’ or a ‘but.'”
Dr. Badia spoke next. His presentation was a sober analysis of the dysfunction that currently exists in the American healthcare system.
After graduating from Cornell, he went on to receive his medical degree from New York University Grossman School of Medicine, followed by a hand fellowship at Alleghany General Hospital in Pittsburgh, and then an AO trauma fellowship in Freiburg, Germany. He ultimately landed in Miami where he launched the Badia Hand to Shoulder Center, built the MARC Institute and introduced OrthoNOW, a walk-in orthopedic care clinic in South Florida that offers a superior alternative to emergency rooms and general urgent care centers.
As a segue from Mr. Counts’ presentation, he noted that, because of miserly reimbursements from healthcare payers, much of his work could be described as philanthropic. He began his presentation by sharing the story of a City of Miami motorcycle police officer who was involved in a horrific traffic accident. Although the police officer ultimately got the care he needed and returned to active duty, the anecdote illustrated the inefficiencies and bureaucracy that plague the current American health system. In fact, it was this incident, combined with the COVID lockdowns, that inspired and allowed Dr. Badia to write his book, Healthcare From the Trenches. “The truth about the U.S. healthcare system needed to be told,” he stated. “I wrote this book, for the most part, during 10 weeks in the spring of 2020,” which coincided with the coronavirus quarantines. According to Dr. Badia, we currently have a perfect storm of negatives infecting a broken health system which include exorbitant prices, inefficiencies, redundancies, poor customer experiences and inhospitable work environments for providers. Although the problems are multi-factorial, Dr. Badia finds elevated fault among the health insurers. “The Economics of Healthcare is the second section of my book and it is reminiscent of a Stephen King novel,” he stated. Despite his various entrepreneurial accomplishments, he regrets that business acumen is necessary for American doctors to succeed. According to Dr. Badia, “Doctors should be highly compensated because the work they do requires a lot of training and skill and it is very valuable.”
Confident yet modest, Dr. Badia admits he doesn’t have the answers to address the current crisis. His goal is to raise awareness. To that end, he not only wrote the book and speaks frequently on the topic, he is also active politically, both at the local level and the national level. Dr. Badia seeks to affect radical change in the current healthcare system. “I wrote this book for my patients,” he stated. “They deserve better.”
The educational portion of the program was followed by cocktails and networking on the rooftop of Dr. Badia’s private residence in Miami, popularly referred to as “The Jungle.”
With COVID (hopefully) receding in the rearview mirror, what a pleasure it is to see South Floridians once again gathering for stimulating and rewarding educational and networking events like this one!
To learn more about Dr. Badia, click HERE.
To learn more about Alex Counts, click HERE.
To learn more about the Cornell Club of Miami, click HERE.