How Denver Health Became a Leader in National Health-Care Reform

April 18 2011, 9:00 AM

Dr. Patti Gabow knows there aren't any quick fixes to the United States' health-care system. But she has nevertheless proven that fixes exist. As CEO of Denver Health Medical Center, Gabow has rehabilitated the institution against serious odds, as 5280 executive editor Maximillian Potter recounts in an extensive feature for this month's magazine. Indeed, the city's oldest public hospital is repelling the trends that have destroyed others like it around the country: crippling debt, rising numbers of uninsured patients, and dismaying percentages of medical errors, to name a few.

Thanks to Gabow's innovative business approach, Denver Health has become a model for the Obama administration in improving "health-care quality and patient safety"—particularly when it comes to decreasing infection rates (Colorado Public Radio). Gabow attended a press conference last week as the U.S. Health and Human Services Department announced a new Partnership for Patients program based in part on Denver Health's impressive turnaround under her leadership (PBS NewsHour).

But there's much more to Gabow's health-care revolution than fewer infections. Read Potter's story for an immersive account of how the accomplished doctor upended the fate of Denver Health, starting with some help from an industrial engineer and business executives with no experience in health care.