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Children’s National Medical Center, with four health centers and six outpatient offices throughout the region, has been a Washington fixture for more than 130 years. Debra Bruno, Legal Times special reports editor, asked Raymond Sczudlo, chief legal officer, about his work. Tell us a little bit about Children’s Hospital and its mission. Children’s Hospital was founded in 1870 and serves the children in the region, the nation, and the world through its mission of care, advocacy, research, and education. Today we are among the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country. We have more than 10,000 in-patient admissions annually, as well as more than 400,000 outpatient visits at our main campus, our clinics, and our regional outpatient centers. Our parent company — Children’s National Medical Center — encompasses Children’s Hospital, Children’s Research Institute, Children’s Hospital Foundation, National Safe Kids, and other activities. What does your job as general counsel involve? As vice president and chief legal officer, I am responsible for the legal affairs of Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC) and its subsidiaries. This covers board and governance issues, regulatory compliance, privacy, risk management, contracting, and whatever else comes in the door! How big is your legal department? Do you use outside counsel? There are two of us in the legal department. The other attorney is Mary Anne Hilliard, who serves as our chief risk counsel. Before she got her law degree, she was a nurse here, so she is spectacular when it comes to relating to doctors and nurses with sensitive risk issues. Then, we use outside counsel for many things, especially malpractice lawsuits. We also retain outside counsel for projects such as contract disputes, commercial litigation, and regulatory issues. What’s on your mind these days? What’s your biggest challenge? Uncompensated care for kids and the unrelenting pressure to cut funding from managed care companies and governments is one of the biggest issues we face today. We have to be passionate but responsible advocates to maintain funding from these sources. Children’s provides more than $40 million annually in uncompensated and undercompensated care for kids who can’t pay. How did you come to be general counsel for Children’s? Where were you before Children’s? Ned Zechman, our CEO, asked me to come on board as chief legal officer a little more than three years ago. I had been a partner in the firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges before that. While in private practice, I had been a board member of CNMC since 1985, and served as board chairman from 1993 through 1995. So I was very familiar with CNMC, the great management team here, and was already dedicated to its mission. How is your life as general counsel different from your work with Weil, Gotshal & Manges? Well, as a general counsel, I have to know at least a little bit about just about every issue that comes across my desk. It is not at all unusual to have to deal with issues of informed consent, rights of HIV-positive patients, custody issues, research, corporate, lease and contract issues, employment issues, as well as advice to the CEO and board all in a single day. The resources and support in a major law firm like Weil Gotshal are far greater than we have here, so life in-house is a bit more hands-on. One of the best experiences I had there was in the early and mid-1990s when I got to spend a lot of time in Warsaw and Budapest with our newly opened offices there. My first project there was to analyze and report on the feasibility of establishing a computerized land record system for Budapest. They had a detailed and accurate system, but it was exclusively paper-based. With the increased pace of land transfers with the rise of private property, they had to wait six, 10, and even 12 months to effect a transfer. This clearly was a major impediment to economic activity. Our client, the Hungarian American Enterprise Fund, wanted to see if there was a better way. When you’re not at work, where can you be found? Well, if you had asked me when I was in private practice, the answer would have been Children’s! Now I am enjoying a newly renovated home with my wife Deborah Sams, CEO of First Star, a public policy and advocacy organization promoting children’s rights in the child protection and welfare systems in the United States. Both you and your wife are involved in some way with children. What prompted you to develop a love of children into a career? Yes, as it turns out, we do have that in common. I got involved with Children’s when I had two young sons from an earlier marriage and wanted a way to make sure that kids in this region could have the very best care available. I was blessed with the fact that apart from some very minor problems, they didn’t need the expertise here at Children’s. I guess being the oldest of seven children had me taking care of kids ever since I can remember. Deb got involved in the nonprofit world in her home state of North Carolina and moved to this area about nine years ago. She has a longstanding concern for kids in the welfare/child protection system and has found a way to advocate on a national level for their rights.

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