The embattled Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, in the grip of a financial crisis involving thousands of layoffs and possible hospital closures, is investigating whether Walter Gray, i ts director of hospitals, has been pulling the wool over everyone's eyes.According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, a health department investigation showed that Gray falsified his resume, stating he had an undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska and a graduate degree from the University of Southern California.Gray used the false information to apply for promotions and raises, even trying for the job of health director that was awarded last fall to Mark Finucane, the paper reported.Gray, also the county's assistant health director, has worked for the department for 33 years. He is responsible for the six county hospitals, including LAC-University of Southern Californi a Medical Center, the nation's largest public hospital. A department spokeswoman said the Times' story is "correct" and that the department has no comment. Outliers tried to contact Gray last week, but he had called in sick each day and didn't return phone calls.
Even as Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield eyes a for-profit conversion, an upstate New York Blues plan is sticking with its not-for-profit status.Preserving a longtime cooperative tradition among p ayers and providers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of the Rochester (N.Y.) Area is collaborating with two large not-for-profit healthcare systems to keep for-profit HMOs from grabbing market share and sucking premium dollars out of th e market through fat profit margins."In essence what we're doing is creating two additional choices," said Phil Puchalski, a spokesman for the Rochester Blues.Within the next few months, the plan expects to introduce two new HMO products. One, so far unnamed, is being developed with three-hospital Greater Rochester Health System. The other product, called Strong Care, is being developed with Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester and its affiliates.
What is ChoiceCare?
A: A Cincinnati-based HMO.
B: A childcare center.
C: A laundry and dry cleaner.
D: A product line of a Buffalo, N.Y.-based HMO.
E: All of the above.
If you picked E, then you'll understand why ChoiceCare Long Island recently shed the name for good. "There's lots of ChoiceCares," said John Kaegi, senior vice president for marketing at the Melville, N.Y.-based HMO. The word "choice" has become so pervasive "that it doesn't mean anything to us."Choi ceCare is registered for national use by the Cincinnati HMO, although the Long Island plan was allowed to use it locally. However, Long Island ChoiceCare wanted its choice of a different name.After testing several new monikers, the 180,000-enrollee plan landed on Vytra Healthcare. Asked what Vytra brings to mind, 71% of consumers said "vitality." The new logo attempts to convey that image.Vytra Healthcare was one of four names that made the final cut. Kaeg i declined to reveal the other three.
Though his chances of winning are probably slim at best, one of U.S. healthcare's foremost critics is running for president.Ralph Nader is seeking the Green Party's nomination. Last week, he rec eived 20,000 votes in the California primary. Assuming he is the party's nominee, which is considered likely, he'll be on the ballot in at least seven states.Nader has been one of the nation's foremost crusaders against limiting me dical malpractice awards, which he argues limit consumers' rights. Nader has often gone toe-to-toe with the American Medical Association and other provider groups over a variety of other issues, including the quality and cost of healthcare.
If you're fooling around on the Internet sometime, try searching for keyword "AMA." About halfway down the list, just before "AMA Home Page" (the doctors' domicile) you'll find "Howard Wolinsky.""Just when they thought they got rid of me, up I pop on the Internet," Wolinsky said. Though not a household name, Wolinsky is a notorious character at the American Medical Association. A longtime healthcare writer at the Chicago Sun-Times, and before that an AMA staffer, Wolinsky is co-author, with Tom Brune, of The Serpent on the Staff, a 1995 book that flayed the AMA alive. Sample chapter titles: License to Make Money, Deep Pockets, Principles for Profits, Medical Monopoly. Wolinsky set up the family home page mainly to placate his wife, a librarian, and his 13-year-old son, an Internet junkie. He also included a promo for his book. Now he's getting e-mail from AMA staffers who stumble onto his name. "Fan letters," he says without irony. "People who want signed copies of the book."
In February, Houston's St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital hoisted a 44-ton magnetic resonance imaging unit to the 10th floor of its medical office bui lding, St. Luke's Medical Tower, giving the hospital what officials believe is the highest MRI in the country.Getting the $2 million unit up that high was a job akin to piano moving on a grand scale. It required a 300-ton hydraulic crane.As to whether the elevation above street level really makes it the highest MRI in the country, we don't know, since nobody keeps track of such a statistic. We await word from other providers (Sorry, Denver hospitals, it's el evation above street level, not sea level) on just how high their MRIs are.This is St. Luke's Episcopal's second MRI. Its other one, located across the street in the 591-bed hospital, "was running all the time," said spokeswoman Karin Thornton.