CHICAGO—During the 59th American College of Healthcare Executives Congress kickoff this morning, Chairman Edward Lamb delivered an important message to a packed room of health care leaders: Stay positive.

“We hear a lot about how we aren’t advancing fast enough, that America is losing its leadership position in health care,” he said. “We do have issues, but we also have opportunities. There is certainly much to be done.”

The theme of this year's meeting is "Leading Well," and Lamb certainly set the tone for the rest of the week by encouraging those in the audience to focus on the heart of health care — making a difference for patients.

Lamb pointed to a story from a hospital CEO about a young boy who had been taken to an emergency department after having been run over by a tractor while working in a field.

After complaining of stomach pain, he went into cardiac arrest. The staff included everyone who could lend a hand, even a pharmacist, to resuscitate the patient. Internal bleeding was discovered, so a blood transfusion was needed, and time was crucial. A surgeon with the same blood type volunteered and a transfusion was performed on the spot. Sadly, the patient died, but that kind of selfless act stuck with Lamb.

“Making a difference should be a life skill we all cultivate. Your leadership is crucial; it’s up to each of us to live, learn and work so our leadership can make that difference,” Lamb said.