1. The Autumn Ghost with Hannah Wunsch Evergreen Podcasts 46:10

In this episode of the Connected Leadership podcast, Andy Lopata hosts Hannah Wunsch, author of “The Autumn Ghost: How the Battle Against a Polio Epidemic Revolutionised Modern Medical Care,” which was recommended by his colleague and co-author, Dr. Ruth Gotian. Despite his initial curiosity about the book’s relevance to connected leadership, Lopata found himself engrossed in Wunsch’s narrative about collaboration and competition during the polio epidemic in 1952.

Hannah Wunsch, a critical care physician, Professor of Anesthesiology, and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine, shares insights into her book’s focus on the pivotal moment in medical history when anesthesiologist Bjorn Ibsen suggested a groundbreaking intervention to save polio patients. This discussion leads to reflections on the cultural differences in medical practices between Scandinavia and the United States, which Ibsen experienced during his training at Massachusetts General Hospital. Hannah emphasises how exposure to different medical systems broadened Ibsen’s perspective, enabling him to challenge conventions and pioneer new approaches to patient care.

Furthermore, Andy and Hannah explore the impact of World War II experiences on medical professionals and how those shared adversities forged deep bonds, influencing medical practices in subsequent years

The conversation examines the importance of fostering open dialogue and interdisciplinary collaboration in healthcare, drawing parallels between historical medical salons and modern-day forums for knowledge exchange. Hannah highlights Ibsen’s innovative thinking and willingness to engage with diverse perspectives as key factors in his ability to create the world’s first modern intensive care unit.

Andy and Hannah delve into the fascinating world of medical history, exploring the traditional hierarchy and segmentation of specialties in the medical field, particularly during the polio epidemic. Hannah shares insights into how this hierarchy initially hindered attempts to find cures and treatments for polio, highlighting the resistance faced by innovators like Ibsen. Despite initial reluctance, Henry Lassen ultimately deserves credit for being willing to break down barriers and listen to unconventional approaches.

Reflecting on the past versus the present, Andy and Hannah discuss the persistence of hierarchy and specialisation in hindering innovation across various sectors, including healthcare and professional relationships. While there have been strides towards diversity and inclusivity, cronyism and siloed thinking remain prevalent challenges.

The conversation also looks at the power of relationships and community support, exemplified by the immense volunteer effort during the polio epidemic. Hannah recounts the extraordinary sacrifice made by medical students who manually provided ventilation to patients, showcasing the strength of community response in times of crisis.

Drawing parallels to navigating internal politics, Hannah emphasises the importance of active listening and withholding judgement, especially when faced with challenging situations. She highlights the value of synthesising information and understanding different perspectives to foster collaboration and achieve better outcomes.

In conclusion, Hannah reflects on how her research has impacted her approach to teamwork and patient care, emphasising the importance of ensuring every voice is heard and valued.

Ultimately, the discussion underscores the significance of cultural understanding, collaboration, and continuous learning in driving medical innovation and improving patient outcomes. Through Hannah’s exploration of historical events and medical breakthroughs, listeners gain valuable insights into the interconnectedness of leadership, collaboration, and innovation in healthcare and professional relationships.

Connect with Andy Lopata Website

Connect with Professor Hannah Wunsch Website

Andy Lopata Author, Podcast Host and Speaker on Professional Relationships Strategy

Andy Lopata is a specialist speaker on professional relationships, mentoring, networking, and social media strategy. He is a firm believer that professional relationships underpin our success in business, our roles, and our careers. The right relationships with the right people can lead to new business opportunities, investment, collaborative working, innovation, and career progress. We just need to be comfortable approaching those relationships strategically, without making people feel ‘networked’ by us.

Andy has worked in the field of networking and professional relationships for 25 years, working with global giants such as Paypal, GSK, AstraZeneca, Wella, HSBC, Wembley Stadium, the BBC, and the Prime Minister’s Office of the UAE, among many others during that time. He has also worked with leading universities including NYU, Duke University, and Oxford University’s Said Business School.

A regular blogger for Psychology Today, Andy has been quoted in The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, and The Guardian, as well as many other national and regional newspapers and magazines worldwide. He has written or co-authored six books on networking and professional relationships, with his sixth book, "The Financial Times Guide to Mentoring," being published in Spring 2024. He is also the host of The Connected Leadership Podcast and has interviewed globally recognized names in business, academia, sports, and entertainment for the show.

Andy has been inducted into the PSAE Hall of Fame – the Professional Speaking Association Award of Excellence, which was held by only 21 other speakers at the time it was presented. He is a Fellow and a former President of the Fellows’ Community of the Professional Speaking Association (PSA), a Fellow of the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI), and a Member of the Association of Business Mentors and the Meetings Industry Association.