Westmont Magazine Healthy Products, Healthy Patients
Rubber gloves pointed Curt Hamann ’83 in an unexpected direction early in his career. Demand for gloves had increased with the spread of AIDS, and his father-in-law asked for help in meeting the need. Through family friends, Curt located sup-pliers in Malaysia and Taiwan who could make gloves for distribution to American dentists. Before he graduated from medical school, Curt discovered that international enterprise fit his talents and interests. He was fascinated by the multidisciplinary expertise involved in designing, manufacturing and marketing natural rubber latex gloves. When allergic reactions became a problem, Curt relished the challenge of alleviating them.
“Understanding, diagnosing and preventing allergies became a key professional interest,” he says. A recognized expert on latex allergies, he frequently contributes articles on the subject to medical journals.
Curt has served as president and CEO of SmartPractice since 1997; he joined the Phoenix-based healthcare company in 1988. Not only has he invented processes for producing gloves and related products that SmartPractice sells, but he oversees the production of these items in Asia and Europe and their distribution in more than 100 countries.While he lives in Arizona, he works throughout the world. Under his leadership, SmartPractice has also branched out to provide training that helps healthcare professionals inspire patients to become healthier.
One of Curt’s key concerns is moving the health care industry from “an infatuation and preoccupation with crisis intervention” to an emphasis on helping patients stay well. “Over half of our health care budget in America is spent on the last six weeks of life, and 85 percent of the diseases being treated are the consequence of lifestyle choices,” he says. “We want a pill or procedure to simply fix what ails us, but our epidemics of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, substance abuse, depression and chronic fatigue are far more complicated than a pill or procedure. We need to design a holistic approach to being and staying well.”
Curt and his wife, Beth Rhode Hamann ’82, have six children ages 12 to 21. Intent on parenting well, they have turned Curt’s extensive travel into an asset. Each year, the kids spend at least six weeks overseas with Curt. Four have studied abroad, and three are fluent in Mandarin — one chose to learn Japanese instead. They also play stringed instruments. “We believe the best way to vaccinate developing kids against the entitlement, apathy, arrogance and materialism infecting American culture is to learn another culture and language and to travel,” he says. Maintaining a strong marriage is also crucial. “Loving each other is one of the most important things Beth and I can do for our children.”
Curt says the best thing he did at Westmont was to meet his wife. He also appreciates the professors who nurtured him and affirmed his intellectual curiosity. “I was able to ask difficult questions about faith and science without being shut down with trite, evangelical-packaged answers,” he says. Directing Christian Concerns helped him develop leadership skills.
Faith has played a formative role in Curt’s life. “I’m a relational evangelist with a heart for the spiritual awakening of those I work with,” he says. “They’ve experienced how Christ shapes my ethical boundaries, my priorities, our family ecology and how we process pain and disappointment.” Spiritual oppression makes it difficult to reach people in some cultures. “Oh how they need to be set free.”