Larry Gage, president of the National Association of Public Hospitals, expressed sympathy for some soon-to-be-jobless House Democratic senior staff members who addressed the association's fall conference in Arlington, Va.
"We have a suicide watch for some of the congressional staff members here today. But they have agreed to be here-and copies of their resumes are outside," Mr. Gage said.
A senior staffer reported that another staff member vented some anger about White House healthcare adviser Ira Magaziner by asking, "What's wrong with this picture? I don't have a job and Ira does."
Speaking of black humor, President Clinton's failure to pass healthcare reform didn't slip by the witty folks who poked fun at Wall Street and corporate America during this year's "Financial Follies," a charity event sponsored by the New York Financial Writers' Association.
Here are the offending lyrics from the musical ditty, performed to the tune of "Old Man River":
He couldn't pass healthcare
with his first lady,
'cause he got distracted
with troops in Haiti.
That young man Bubba,
he jest keeps doin' it wrong.
Phone home.What's the first thing many hospital patients do after they've been admitted to their rooms?
Logic would dictate they call a friend or relative. Yet, that's nearly impossible in most Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals because patient rooms don't have telephones. Patients can still make a call, but they have to walk to a pay phone or ask a nurse to bring a portable pay phone to their rooms.
Currently, only 58 of the nation's 171 VA medical centers have patient room telephones.
However, this month, the phone age dawned for patients in the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston. Through a combination of efforts, 747 telephones were installed in patient rooms.
The installation was part of the PT Phone Home Project, for which Congress appropriated $1.5 million in 1993. The federal funding helps purchase telephone wiring and hardware for VA medical centers.
However, it's just a fraction of the cost, so other groups have pitched in. For example, at the Houston VA hospital and others, the Communications Workers of America have been installing the circuitry at no cost. Installations are under way at 41 other VA medical centers, officials said.
The challenger.Ameritech may have taken it on the chin in front of the home crowd in Chicago, but expect it to come back fighting for a share of the title of community health information network operator.
Commenting on the company's loss to a competing alliance of high-tech vendors for a Chicago-area CHIN contract (Nov. 21, p. 21), an Ameritech spokeswoman extolled the virtues of competition and intimated that the telecommunications company was not about to cede the market.
The Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council acknowledged as much when it disclosed the next moves for a coalition of providers, payers and community interests that engineered the initiative under the council's banner. The Chicago network is seen as a model for provider control of health data.
"By this very process, you have created your competition," said William Lewis, MCHC senior vice president, referring to the winnowing of winners and losers down to the final partners. So in addition to negotiating a contract and developing a business plan with the winning bidder, which calls itself the ChinAlliance, the metropolitan Chicago CHIN is gearing up for a big marketing and public relations campaign.
Chicago-based Ameritech has been battling another early-to-market CHIN developer, Integrated Medical Systems of Golden, Colo., and has some catching up to do in its own back yard. IMS already has a Chicago-area unit called the Illinois Medical Information Network, Oak Brook, which has been building links between physicians and hospitals. IMIN is now one of the eight partners in the ChinAlliance.
New hire.Delta Dental Plans Association, with a membership that provides dental coverage to nearly 26 million people in more than 30,000 employer groups, has landed an accomplished healthcare executive as its new president and chief executive officer.
Carl Zimmerman joins Chicago-based Delta from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, where he has been a vice president for health affairs. Prior to that he was executive vice president for systems operation at Evangelical Health Systems, Oak Brook, Ill. Mr. Zimmerman replaces James E. Bonk, who is retiring. The Delta network represents 94,000 dentists. Mr. Zimmerman intends to work more closely with hospital groups and other national organizations that represent providers and insurers.
Season of giving.The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' latest annual tax filing with the Internal Revenue Service revealed that the commission received donations from two corporations whose executives sit on the JCAHO's 28-member board.
Castle Harlan, a New York-based venture capital firm, donated $10,000 to the JCAHO last year. Its chairman and chief executive officer, John Castle, is a public member of the JCAHO board. And PMH Health Resources, a Phoenix-based healthcare system, donated $5,000 to the JCAHO in 1993. Its president and CEO, Reginald Ballantyne III, also is on the JCAHO board as a representative of the American Hospital Association.
The donations are in addition to annual gifts from the JCAHO's five sponsoring healthcare organizations, which include the AHA and the American Medical Association. Each organization contributes $140,000 annually to the JCAHO, or $20,000 for every seat it has on the board. JCAHO tax filings dating to 1986 did not identify donations from any board-affiliated organizations other than the sponsoring healthcare groups.