If you're a real entrepreneur, you don't let things like a federal investigation into your company and a state professional disciplinary proceeding stop you from trying to move up.
Eyecare Physicians of America founder James Desnick, M.D., has announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate from Illinois, just weeks before an Illinois Department of Professional Regulation professional misconduct hearing and days after federal agents raided his Chicago offices.
The state body has accused Dr. Desnick of malpractice and "dishonorable, unethical or unprofessional conduct of a character likely to deceive, defraud or harm the public." Federal agents, who seized 100 boxes of records in connection with an investigation of Medicare and Medicaid billing practices, didn't comment on what they had found in the visit.
Dr. Desnick's company operates 12 vision and eye surgery clinics. He also is owner of two licensed ambulatory surgery centers and 250-bed Doctors Hospital of Hyde Park in Chicago.
The 43-year-old millionaire dismissed the federal investigation as "nothing more than a review" that all physicians agree to when they sign contracts with the government. He added that he "would like to segregate and separate" his legal difficulties from his campaign. "I don't think I have to clear my name," he said. "I don't think my name has been (besmirched)."
Profit talk.Just for the record, there were six for-profit hospitals on the most recent Top 100 Hospitals: Benchmarks for Success list compiled by HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare information company, and New York-based Mercer Health Care Provider Consulting (Nov. 14, p. 74).
C. Thomas Smith, president and chief executive officer of the VHA hospital alliance, had used the makeup of last year's list to support an argument earlier this month in a published report that not-for-profits are efficient providers rather than struggling examples of a bygone era. Mr. Smith counted only two for-profits among the elite 100 as part of his defense of not-for-profit know-how.
Selection criteria for that first list were weighted more toward the financial performance of hospitals, in ways that might have worked against for-profits.
Last year's HCIA/Mercer report said, "The relatively low representation of investor-owned facilities may have been due in part to the fact that these facilities typically enjoy easier access to public debt markets and, therefore, face significantly larger debt burdens and a higher degree of financial leverage than their not-for-profit and government hospital counterparts."
The new list, released Nov. 14, used a more equal weighting of financials, efficiency measures and clinical achievements. For-profits on the new roster are Inland Valley Regional Medical Center, Wildomar, Calif.; St. Mark's Hospital, Salt Lake City; Castleview Hospital, Price, Utah; North Florida Regional Medical Center, Gainesville, Fla.; Medical Center Hospital-Largo (Fla.); and Parkway Regional Medical Center, North Miami Beach, Fla.
Striking fear.Despite the fact that a California judge has put Proposition 187, the controversial initiative to limit public services for illegal immigrants, on hold, clinics are feeling its power in declining patient visits, which they attribute to the widespread fear being expressed in the community.
A 12-year-old immigrant child in Anaheim who had leukemia died at a neighborhood clinic. The child's parents said they had been afraid to get him treated before because of Proposition 187. And there has been a tremendous drop-off in visits to Burbank-based UniHealth America's Operation Immunization, officials report (Sept. 12, p. 76).
Nevertheless, the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems isn't sounding alarms yet. "There aren't any major developments, no reports from our members" of significant problems caused by passage of the law, which would require doctors to report illegal immigrants to the authorities, a spokeswoman said.
The drop-off in visits to UniHealth's clinics-at seven schools in the San Fernando Valley that serve a large Hispanic population-began in early September, when word got around about Proposition 187, said Greg Waskul, the program's director. The clinics immunized 516 children in August, 258 in September and 148 in October, he said. And increasingly, parents who bring their kids to be immunized are refusing to give their addresses or are giving phony addresses, he said.
To entice parents to have their children immunized, UniHealth has begun a toy giveaway program at a mall in Panorama City, north of Los Angeles. The toy industry and others have donated more than 1,000 toys. Burger King alone donated 400 videocassette tapes of "A Fairy Tale."
Day-care dreams.What's a hospital to do when its day-care center is packed to capacity and demand is overwhelming? If you're Hackensack (N.J.) Medical Center, you build it bigger and they will come.
Hackensack's new four-story, 23,000-square-foot facility will accommodate as many as 369 kids, ages 3 months to 6 years, making it the largest employer-sponsored day-care center in the U.S.
The new $3.5 million Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Child Care and Learning Center was funded in part through a generous donation by the Gabrellian family, although officials declined to disclose the amount of the gift. Sarkis Gabrellian is a real estate developer who lives in Bergen County, where Hackensack is located.
The child-care center is said to be one of the few in the country that fully integrates "differently abled" children. Pediatric speech, occupational and physical therapists provide services for those with special needs.
Other kid-friendly features include a high-tech, fiber-optic planetarium, two outdoor play areas, a computer room and a full-service kitchen. More than 200 children have already been enrolled in the program.