AUSTIN, Texas — Risk management has played key roles in the lives of retired astronaut and U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Kelly and his wife, former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, he said Wednesday in a keynote address during the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management annual conference in Austin, Texas.
Capt. Kelly told the story of his career as a Navy pilot who went on to fly in three NASA space missions, as well as of Ms. Giffords' road to recovery after she was shot outside an Arizona Safeway grocery store in January 2011.
“The power of the human spirit is an incredible thing,” Capt. Kelly said. “To watch Gabby fight so hard to survive, and then fight so hard to come back, she reminds me each and every day to deny the acceptance of failure. She does not give up.”
Capt. Kelly said that health care safety and risk management measures were important in making sure Ms. Giffords received proper care from physicians, including brain surgeries that she underwent to repair damage from the shooting and rehabilitative care that she continues to receive.
He also noted that risk mitigation and safety measures are highly important in NASA missions, and said that space flights are “statistically … almost as (dangerous) as storming the beach at Normandy on D-Day.”
Risk management procedures used in space missions include paying close attention to details in each mission and picking space mission team members who raise flags if a decision could put the crew at risk, Capt. Kelly said.
“If you think we should be doing something differently and it affects safety or mission success, you're going to bring it up to me, and we're going to talk about it and we're going to figure it out,” he said.
Capt. Kelly delivered a written message from Ms. Giffords to the ASHRM crowd, saying that she is “very fond of the health care industry that has done so much for her.” Ms. Gifford's message read, “Be passionate, be courageous, be strong, be your best.”
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