The lines of communication between the executive suite at the American Hospital Association and the AHA's rank and file have crackled ever since Richard Davidson took over as president in 1991. Now the association has documented a staff perception that its top dogs have been less than open with the troops.
A confidential survey of 200 AHA staffers revealed that employees think internal communications at the association exhibit a lack of trust, direction and leadership.
"The length of many responses and the large number of detailed comments clearly demonstrated that employees devoted a lot of thought, time and energy to responses," the AHA said in its Sept. 11 employee newsletter, which reported the results. Translation: Staffers are ticked.
The results apparently were so negative that the AHA and Davidson held an open forum for employees on the vital role of internal communications Sept. 7 at the association's Chicago headquarters.
"Leadership, ownership, teamwork and trust are essential, but the results of the recent internal communications survey indicated some gaps in these areas," Davidson said. "Senior executives, vice presidents and I need to be sensitive and committed to increasing personal contact with all employees so that all share the AHA vision with confidence and optimism."
Who are we now?An identity crisis may occur in the mental healthcare arena as healthcare's name-changing phenomenon spreads to the field.
So far this month, two psychiatric firms have changed their names.
The biggest was Medco Behavioral Care Corp., which changed its name to Merit Behavioral Care Corp. The name change was part of a management-led buyout of the firm, which manages mental healthcare services for 15 million Americans.
The company had to change its name because it's no longer part of Medco Containment Services, a pharmacy benefit manager.
Merit's logo, with the initials MBC, will not change. Spokeswoman Lisa Suennen said the company wanted to maintain the original logo, so it searched for alternate names beginning with the letter "M." "It's surprising how few `M' names there are," she noted.
The second name change came from Sierra Tucson Cos., a small Tucson, Ariz.-based firm. Sierra Tucson is now NextHealth. The investor-owned company recently expanded its services to offer stress-management vacations that include meditation and yoga (July 3, p. 20). The company's addiction treatment programs will continue to carry the Sierra Tucson moniker, officials said.
Tipped off.Television's financial prognosticators-such as CNBC's Dan Dorfman-have prompted the Chicago Board of Options Exchange to ask regulators to permit the temporary suspension of a computerized options trading system when broadcasted news tips set off frenzied trading. Although the proposed rule could apply to any TV analyst, Dorfman's daily broadcasts often lead to wild fluctuations in the market as stock traders react to his tips.
Dorfman shook up the healthcare market Oct. 6 when he predicted Integrated Health Services would make a hostile takeover bid for Beverly Enterprises. The day of his announcement, Beverly's stock price jumped more than 10%. Beverly, a Fort Smith, Ark.-based long-term-care company, has declined to comment on the prediction, and Owings Mills, Md.-based IHS, a subacute-care concern, issued a response stating that the company "does not comment on market rumors" and "it has not been its policy to enter into hostile transactions."
Executive swapping.Talk about getting customer perspective. Deerfield, Ill.-based hospital supplier Baxter International and Evanston (Ill.) Healthcare Corp., which runs two Illinois hospitals, just swapped executives in an extreme example of management education.
Evanston sent its top materials manager, Jerome Stracke, on a 9-month mission to help Baxter's principal U.S. subsidiary streamline its purchasing operations. Among other tasks, Stracke is charged with cutting Baxter outlays for raw materials. In exchange, Evanston gets a Baxter human resources expert to tackle such issues as how much influence department managers should have on employee salaries.
Recalling the massive Baxter restructuring in 1993, which called for eliminating 4,500 jobs in five years, Outliers had to ask: Does Evanston plan to tap that Baxter human resources experience? "Let me just go on the record: Head count is not an issue," an Evanston spokesman said.
The two companies hit on the executive exchange as a path to a closer partnership. Evanston already spends $7 million on Baxter goods and services annually, about 10% of its materials budget.
Operation Opal.A small armada of ambulances from across the East Coast helped evacuate patients from two small Florida Panhandle hospitals as Hurricane Opal and her 125 mile-per-hour winds approached last week.
More than a dozen resort towns along Florida's western panhandle from Pensacola to Panama City were evacuated on Oct. 4 as Opal made a beeline for the coast, which experienced Hurricane Erin's wrath two months ago.
Only two hospitals were thought to be especially prone to the winds because they are on low ground and near the coast. The trouble was, ambulances from the area were busy gearing up to treat Opal's expected victims. So eight ambulances from as far away as Rochester, N.Y., came to the rescue and evacuated 43-bed Gulf Breeze (Fla.) Hospital and 45-bed Gulf Pines Hospital, Port St. Joe.
"The ambulance crews came from all over to help us out," said Carol Trivett, a Gulf Breeze spokeswoman. "They had signs on the sides of their ambulances saying, `Caution: We Brake for Hurricanes' and `Opal EMS (Emergency Medical Services)."'
Both hospitals reopened after sustaining minor damage.