Susan Waltman ’77

In Good Hands

Winter 2010

Susan Waltman ’77, executive vice president and general counsel of the Greater New York Hospital Association, describes her position as one that puts her in the “guts of hospital operations.” She is charged with managing legal, regulatory, and professional affairs issues that impact the association’s 250 member hospitals and continuing care facilities, focusing on everything from dramatic changes in health care laws to emergency preparedness. Never has that role been more fraught with controversy and excitement than now.

Waltman, who is a third-generation graduate of Columbia Law School, finds herself entrenched in the health reform debate that has captured national attention. “What our association has done is to say, ‘Let’s all work together to identify ways to reduce the cost of the health care system, rather than simply impose cuts in reimbursement,’” she explains.

As part of the national debate, the association has “taken the position that the medical malpractice system should also be reformed,” she says. Her organization advocates the implementation of “health courts” that would enlist specially trained judges and experts to help determine liability and compensation in malpractice
suits. The association has also pushed for the establishment of clinical guidelines,
which, if followed, would ensure quality care while protecting doctors from non-meritorious lawsuits.

“Parts of these initiatives have gained some traction because they’re middle of the road,” she says. “I love health care, and I love what it can do for all of us. I also appreciate the value of the broader application of public health."