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A Special Tribute to a Special Person

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
October 30, 2012

Those of you who have been following my blog know of Cynthia "Cy" Burr, a dear friend and great fan of St. Luke's Health System.

Cy passed away last night.

Cy was a very special person. She first contacted me through my blog to encourage me, and happened to catch me on a somewhat discouraging day.

She wrote to say that she was seeing coming to fruition the very things I was promoting to fulfill our vision. Though she was struggling with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy, and suffering sometimes with what she lightly called "chemo brain," she wanted me to know how important what we were doing was, and how it was making a difference in the lives of our patients and their families.

I was so inspired by Cy that I asked whether she would be willing to chat with me in front of about 500 leaders from around our System. We taped our talk, so that we could share it with all of our 10,600 employees and so that they could see first-hand how important our work to transform healthcare is, and how noticeable it already is to patients.

I don’t think she gave it more than two minutes' thought before agreeing, and the result was a video that has moved and inspired thousands of St. Luke’s employees, physicians, and others.  That video is at http://drpate.stlukesblogs.org/2012/07/19/doing-your-best-dying-with-dignity-lessons-from-an-empowered-patient/.

Cy cared deeply about what St. Luke's is doing to transform health care. Our mission and vision were not just words to her. They were critical promises that she relied on. She cared so deeply about improving care for others that she selflessly gave of her own time and efforts to not only cheerlead our efforts, but tell us what we could do better.

Cy left us a tremendous gift. She reminds us why our work is so important. She motivates us to never give up in our pursuit of transformation, even though it is hard at times.  She wants us to know that it is important to patients and their families that we fully achieve our vision, and that it makes a difference in the lives of our patients. Most importantly, she reminds us each and every day to “do your best."

I don’t know what your particular religious beliefs might be, but I believe that every now and then God brings someone into my life to help me and encourage me.

That someone has been Cy, and I thank God for her.

About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.