In response to surgery patients' fear of being infected with tainted blood, Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles has implemented the first official surgical program specializing in complex cardiovascular and neurosurgical procedures without blood transfusions.
"Bloodless" surgery was originally developed 20 years ago for Jehovah's Witnesses, who avoid transfusions for religious reasons. Good Samaritan's Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Center was officially organized last March.
The bloodless surgery technique helps alleviate the fear some patients have of contracting AIDS or other diseases through contaminated blood.
Last year, Los Angeles County Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center was slapped with a $1.5 million lawsuit by a woman who contracted AIDS after she was transfused with HIV-infected blood during routine surgery.
"Some of those fears are real, some exaggerated, but they are there," said Tom Kanavos, the program's coordinator. "(Bloodless surgery) eliminates the possibility of transmitted diseases like AIDS and hepatitis."
The technique also reduces medical costs and patient recovery time. "Apparently, blood transfusions affect the immune system, and that slows the healing process," Kavanos said, reporting cases of some "bloodless" multiple bypass and heart valve replacement patients leaving the hospital within four days.
With less recovery time and lower costs, the program has a natural appeal for managed-care organizations. Good Samaritan's bloodless surgery patients are covered under existing contracts at no extra cost.
No managed.The newly formed union of the Group Health Association of America and the American Managed Care and Review Association is looking for a new name, preferably one that does not include the phrase "managed care."
Outliers was contacted, accidentally we assume, by a survey firm that was testing out some new monikers for the group, including our favorite, the American Health Plan Association.
Others being considered, according to the survey, were the "Association of Coordinated Care Plans" (the ACCP, which several survey respondents said sounded like the Soviet Union's former acronym) and the "Association of American Health Plans."
GHAA/AMCRA officials say one of the names in the survey, the "Quality Healthcare Council," already has been eliminated from contention.
Communicator moves on.The Association of American Medical Colleges is looking to raise its national profile, and it is turning to one of the creators of the "Harry and Louise" ads to do it.
Susan Neely, 39, who as senior vice president of public affairs at the Health Insurance Association of America supervised the highly effective series of Harry and Louise ads that featured a fictional yuppie couple who found mounds of fault with the Clinton administration healthcare reform plan, will take over the AAMC's message shop on Feb. 19 as vice president of communications.
"We want to start to get our message out more," said Richard Knapp, AAMC senior vice president of government relations. "And if she does as good with our message as she did with (the HIAA's) message, we'll be in good shape."
Neely previously worked as press secretary for Republican Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and for Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa).
New example.Oh, what a difference a year makes. Michael Covert, president and chief executive officer of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, finally accepted the $25,000 raise he turned down last year from the public hospital. Covert also agreed to another $19,000 this year for a new annual salary of $294,000.
Outliers reported last year that Covert turned down a 10% raise to set an example for the hospital's 2,600 employees who were being asked to work a little harder to make up for vacant positions that had been eliminated (March 6, 1995, p. 116).
From January 1995 to this month, staffing declined at the hospital to 4.9 full-time-equivalent employees per bed from 5.4. As a result, total profits rose to $13.3 million from $7.6 million.
In accepting the dual raise this year, Covert said: "I was overwhelmed by the majority of my board's heartfelt commitment to me and the continuity of leadership (at Sarasota Memorial)."
Trustee Gerald Phillips said of Covert's 18% raise: "For-profit hospitals would pay Mr. Covert twice what he's earning now." Adding to the board's concern was that over the past year Covert received two job offers. The 18% raise was offered to give Covert an incentive to stay, a hospital spokesman said. The board also extended Covert's contract to 2001.
Out-of-tune hearsay.Richard M. Scrushy, chairman and chief executive officer at HealthSouth Corp., is vehemently denying a recently published rumor that Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. might make a takeover bid for his company.
"I don't know anything about it. They certainly haven't contacted me, and I haven't talked to anyone at Columbia," he said. The speculation appeared in the Jan. 22 issue of Business Week.
It's no surprise that HealthSouth and its irrepressible leader have been garnering so much attention lately. In matters of business, Scrushy has affirmed that Birmingham, Ala.-based HealthSouth will continue to actively grow its own business, maintaining an aggressive plan of acquiring rehabilitation networks and outpatient surgery centers.
And as a flamboyant personality, Scrushy has been gaining renown for his outside activities, such as playing in a country music band called Dallas County Line, playing golf with NBA hotshots and organizing charity events. He even advised House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) as head of a private task force on workers' compensation legislation.