Spotlight COlorado  

Have You Met?

Interviewed by Nancy Koontz.

Dr. Reggie and Faye Washington tell me it took the third date for their romance to finally kick-in.  On date number one in Denver, due to their different personalities, they didn’t think there would be a date number two.  But, Reggie, a die-hard lover of jazz (Miles Davis-style), invited Faye to go to a jazz club for some dinner and some serious jazz.  Faye being more of a modern jazz gal (George Benson-style), wasn’t into the music and asked to be taken home early.  In the car (Dr. Reggie’s old Maverick), they heard an ad saying this was the best week for a picnic - with wine and cheese - to see the Aspen trees changing colors.

Faye coming from Houston, had never seen an Aspen tree, so plans were made, to give it one more shot, and go see the Aspen trees – of course with wine and cheese! Well, it clicked, they had a wonderful time and have been together ever since.

With their combination of understated charm, smarts, empathy for all, humor and strength, the Washington’s are a highly-respected Colorado couple. Along with credentials and awards a mile long for both of them, they have tackled many important issues such as childhood hunger and obesity, and the value of a good education, sports and exercise for children.   
On August 21st this year, Dr. Reggie and Faye will chair the Kaleidoscope Ball “Through the Eyes of a Child” - benefiting the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s along with Dr. Manning Maulin and his wife, Margie. (See the event calendar for more information.)
The warmth and graciousness of the greeting you get when you first get together with the Washington’s stands out immediately, and it’s a joy to be around this delightful couple. They are proud, accomplished, toweringly large and beautiful human beings.

What do you like about medicine today? Dr. Reggie: In medicine, there’s still the opportunity to help people. As a physician, there’s still the opportunity to do that. That’s at any level: nurses, respiratory therapists, x-ray technicians – or a brain surgeon. Everyone in the field has the opportunity to make people feel better.

What don’t you like? As you might imagine, the bureaucracy and the politics of medicine in some instances has overtaken what it is we are trying to do. I think we need to have the debate; I think healthcare does need to be reformed. I believe what we’ve done to date is helping insurance reform – what we haven’t talked much about is health care. It’s become a political debate rather than a health insurance debate. Overall, we need to fix the system. There’s a lot of additional work that needs to be done. We need to become honest about what the problems are.

Dr. Reggie, I want to ask you about one of your most important issues - childhood obesity. Are you making strides in trying to fight childhood obesity? 
Yes, we are making strides. First thing we successfully have to do is change the public ideas about childhood obesity, and convince them that it really is a problem. Many people think we are trying to run their lives because we want to take soft drinks out of the schools, or bring recess back, or we are forcing more physical education back into the schools – or put fruits and vegetables on the menus. It’s actually up to the parents to be educated about what good food choices are available out there and what choices to stay away from. Michelle Obama and her commitment to childhood obesity is helping the public realize we do have a problem, but we still have a long way to go.   

Faye, tell us about your upcoming Kaleidoscope Ball on August 21st to be held at the new Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. 
Yes!  It’s going to be at the new hospital itself with cocktails and buffet stations set up all over the hospital. It’s a one-of-a-kind event being held in a one-of-a-kind location. You will be able to see all the areas including the operating rooms before they even are used. You will be able to see places people normally aren’t exposed to in a hospital before they take occupancy. Once the hospital is occupied, we wouldn’t be able to do this. The final sterilization of the hospital will take place after the event. Dr. Reggie adds: It will be a totally unique experience. Guests will be able to walk through the operating and recovery rooms and the cardiac surgery areas and see the heart and lung machines used when someone has heart surgery. We will see what a cat-scan really looks like and just go from place to place that night. When the new hospital is open, you won’t be able to do that again.

What is your favorite thing to do on a day off? Dr. Reggie:
 Faye likes to sleep in; I like to play golf.

What is your favorite vacation spot? Both Reggie & Faye:
 Carmel, CA.

Are you glad you made the choices you have in your life; is there anything you should have done differently? Dr. Reggie:
 I’d say no. I’m very happy with where we are together with what we’ve done, and what we have to look forward to doing in the future. Faye: I feel the same way – except there’s one choice I would have made differently, and that is to stay home with my children earlier.   

What is your favorite quote or words to live by? Dr. Reggie:
 I’m trying to think of something quotable. You know, my dad used to say: “Stay in there and pitch! No matter how hard it gets, keep at it…” Faye: Always have a good friend. A good friend is a person that when you’ve made a fool of yourself, will not let you feel like you are a fool.  

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Dr. Reggie:
 Someday I’d like to look forward to going on vacation and not have to worry about coming back to work. Faye: Playing more golf – and being healthy doing it.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? Dr. Reggie:
 My parents used to say: “Always do your best…” They expected us to finish college and have a good career. Faye: My mother used to say: “The woman is always the peacemaker in the home, and so no matter what it takes, make sure your home is happy.” 

What stands out in your mind as your most memorable experience? Dr. Reggie: 
Our first date. Faye: Marrying Reggie.

So, what is the secret to wedded bliss? Dr. Reggie:
 Perseverance. It’s not always roses, there will be challenges. As my dad said: “Stay in there and pitch!” Faye: And as my mom said: “You are the peacemaker in your home so meet him halfway.”

How do you want to be remembered by future generations? Dr. Reggie:
 Faye and I have been given a lot that not all people of color have been able to experience. I can’t tell you the times we’ve walked into a room, and we were the only people of color. We have always tried to make a difference – not because we are people of color, but because we want every young person out there saying: “I can do whatever it is I want to do in life, and if it doesn’t happen, it’s because I’m really not that good (because of lack of education or drive). I’ll be judged on what I have worked for and what I do have to offer.” No excuses. We were given talents, and we have used those talents to the best of our abilities. We want to know we have come into this world and left it better for all. Faye: I want to be remembered as someone who was grateful for the good things in life that I was fortunate to have experienced, and that I hopefully have influenced somebody to want to give back to the community.   Years ago when I was growing up in Houston, there just weren’t very many opportunities. Denver is now such an open society, everybody of color is allowed the opportunity to choose to have a good life.