When he came to Grand Rapids as a medical student in 1984, Khan Nedd was a long way from home. Twenty-seven years later…he’s right at home.
He’s Doctor Khan Nedd now, and he’s lived more than half his life in Grand Rapids, a place far from his childhood home in Grenada. He’s OK with that. He’s become part of the fabric of Grand Rapids and continually looks for ways to get involved.
When he does, it’s hard not to notice him — at well over six feet tall he’s an imposing physical presence. But up close he’s reflective and soft spoken, even when talking about topics he cares about the most. He’s a man of faith, a father of three, an active (when possible) soccer player, and a guy who enjoys the city’s increasingly varied social life.
So what does he do with his day?
He’s an internist who co-owns a healthcare business, a member of, or volunteer for, numerous community boards, and a passionate advocate for quality, accessible healthcare. Why so busy? It’s simple, he says:
“Wherever you go, you’ve got to make it your home. And if you want to make changes, you have to be part of it. You have to get involved at the core…from within.”
Nedd’s healthcare business, which he co-founded 12 years ago, is Infusion Associates, a medical group practice that provides IV therapies for patients. This option allows people to avoid a more expensive hospital visit for these services.
“Wherever you go, you’ve got to make it your home.”
After hours, or sometimes during, he’s on the board at Spectrum Hospital; he’s chair of a committee that evaluates the cost and efficacy of drugs covered by Medicare; he’s involved in the Hope Network; he has a long volunteer relationship with Pilgrim Manor; and he’s the founder of the Grand Rapids African-American Health Institute, an organization that focuses on resolving disparities in the healthcare system..
It’s not quite all healthcare all the time, but it’s close. Nedd believes there are daunting challenges that can be met by taking a closer look at the issues from the patient’s point of view..
“The issue is so highly politicized right now,” he says. “It’s blinding; it’s like walking into a blizzard. We can’t really solve anything unless we have a good understanding of what really happens. It’s more important to know how people operate — do I know who to call, do I know who to talk to…”
Nedd discovered close-hand how well the system works. He was a patient himself.
“Two years ago I had a cardiac arrest,” he remembers. “I also had cancer the same year. I got to understand what patients felt. I always viewed myself as pretty empathic and this put me in a position to experience what other people to through.”
He believes the experience gave him a better sense of what can work and what does not. It isn’t always about money, but what is most effective, most efficient. The money, he reasons, will follow.
“Sometimes, treatment costs rise and you’ve lost all the ground you gained,” he says. “For us to restructure healthcare we would have something like 30 million people becoming participants. Since when aren’t 30 million people a business opportunity?”
“Modernization doesn’t have to have negatives. Negatives come when people aren’t able to participate.”
Not solving the problem within the industry is worse, he suggests. “We don’t want government or the insurance companies to reflexively decide for us. We can work together to optimize what we do. I’m always amazed at how much you can learn when you take the time to sit down and talk to somebody.”
Communication is important to Nedd, including social media, which he believes will play a key role in the future of healthcare.
“The reality for us in healthcare is that people are going to want to interface using the machinery of social networking.” he maintains. “That’s where people are going to get their information. Some people don’t like this but modernization doesn’t have to have negatives. Negatives come when people aren’t able to participate.”
It is this aspect of inclusiveness that Nedd views as a fundamental part of what makes a city work. He saw the opposite of it in his early days in Grand Rapids, and while he is grateful now for the friendships and opportunities he has, he believes there’s always room for growth.
“When it come to African-American issues, a good measure of where you are as a city
is when people can reflexively see and react to an issue,” he says. “That’s when you know you have arrived as a city.”
Nedd adds that inclusiveness ultimately extends to everyone:
“Energy is created in a city by how many people you can keep here, and how welcome people feel when they come here…when they step out of their car and have that sense of Nirvana…of arriving at a great place.”
Getting there takes some work but the basics are right in front of us, every day, Nedd believes:
“The fundamental definition of Christianity is the God-man relationship, but the only expression of it is man to man…how do you treat your fellow man?”
As a doctor..and a citizen, Dr. Khan Nedd treats them pretty well.