Emergency medical workers who responded to the crash of USAir Flight 427 outside of Pittsburgh left the scene without a single patient. All 132 passengers and crew members died on impact.
That's why Outliers was surprised to receive a call the next morning from Aliquippa (Pa.) Hospital, located just 11/2 miles from the disaster site.
Judith Leslie Stanchak, director of occupational health, touted the medical team's speedy response to the scene-within nine minutes of the crash-and the coordination of follow-up care. A number of firefighters and rescue workers traumatized by the gruesome scene received psychiatric treatment in the emergency room. Passengers' family and friends and members of the community also were offered counseling.
This may seem utterly routine to some hospitals. But for Aliquippa, a small community provider that's "struggling to survive," its response is a point of pride. According to data supplied by HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare information company, the hospital lost $878,000 last year on net patient revenues of $36 million. Although comparable figures for 1992 weren't available, 1991 data show a net gain of $908,000 on net patient revenues of $26 million.
Currently, Aliquippa is under the direction of an interim chief executive officer. Just two weeks before the crash, the hospital's CEO had "moved on to another assignment," said Janice Bove, community relations specialist.
Unsweetened.With healthcare reform apparently a lost cause in Washington, attention has started to shift to changes going on within the industry, if recent news coverage is any indication. That should help the authors of a new book about changes in the healthcare field.
Reengineering Health Care: A Vision for the Future is about the real world of how providers are succeeding, and sometimes failing, to integrate delivery systems, modernize facilities and restructure management. "We don't candy-coat a thing in our new book, we tell people what they need to hear," said co-author David Zimmerman, president of Zimmerman & Associates, a Hales Corner, Wis., healthcare consulting firm. The other author is John Skalko, assistant vice-president at Lee Memorial Hospital and HealthPark, both in Fort Myers, Fla.
The book takes a look into the future of the healthcare industry, at topics such as the paperless payment system, regional claims clearinghouses and outsourcing.
It may be that not as many people are anxious for this news, however, since the book had to be self-published by Mr. Zimmerman. It costs $49.95 and is available only by calling him at 800-525-0133. The authors are looking for a major publisher, a spokeswoman said.
Community voice.Meanwhile, another new book looks back at the pressures that fueled demand for reform.
As administrator of York (Me.) Hospital, a 79-bed community facility in southern Maine, Susan Garrett grappled a decade ago with soaring costs, rapid changes in technology and increased government regulation that threatened to overwhelm the 80-year-old institution.
Her new book, Taking Care of Our Own (Dutton, $19.95), recounts the inner workings of York Hospital and the experiences of both the people who worked there and those who depended on the hospital for care. It concludes that small hospitals can provide important services that large, impersonal medical centers can't match.
Ms. Garrett, who spent six years at York Hospital before leaving in 1983, compresses her story into a one-year period in which hospital officials reflected upon an uncertain future and decided to undertake a risky expansion program. Now, as many small hospitals struggle for survival, York Hospital has done well, she writes.
In human terms, she spells out the intricacies of shifting costs from Medicare patients to the self-insured and the financial risks of keeping patients in the hospital beyond the number of days calculated for each of the government's 477 DRGs.
She wrestles with various definitions of quality care, only to conclude that its meaning for York Hospital is much different than it would be for a major medical center.
A community hospital, she said, offers "a natural continuum" of care ranging from doctors' offices to acute care to home-based care. There are education programs, volunteer help for the elderly and respite for family care givers, all provided close to home.
Easy pickings.Here's another phrase to add to your merger/acquisition vocabulary when talking with investment bankers: "low-hanging fruit."
That was the catch phrase used by several attendees at the Robinson-Humphrey Health Care Conference in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month in discussing how Community Health Systems, Houston, will save $10 million immediately through cuts in corporate overhead and common purchasing contracts through a merger with Hallmark Healthcare Corp., Atlanta. Additional savings may be generated through synergies between the two hospital companies, but that fruit is presumably higher up the tree.
Saint's honor.One of healthcare's first saints will have a permanent memorial join her spiritual remembrance at 302-bed Columbus Hospital, which she founded in Chicago.
Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, the United States' first saint and the "Saint of Immigrants," was honored with the naming of a Chicago street after her. The city of Chicago approved the naming of the 2500 block of North Lakeview Avenue in front of Columbus Hospital as "Mother Cabrini Drive."
"Mother Cabrini worked tirelessly on behalf of others," said Sister Catherine Garry of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the order founded by Mother Cabrini, who died in 1917 and was canonized in 1946. "This permanent recognition of her work will help preserve her memory for future generations of Chicagoans." Mother Cabrini, a member of the Health Care Hall of Fame, was born in Italy in 1850 and later traveled to America to help immigrants adjust to their new lives. In 1905, she founded Columbus Hospital and opened what is now Saint Cabrini Hospital in 1910.