In the battle for hearts and minds in Michigan, Mercy Health Services of Farmington Hills isn't taking any chances.
In a mass mailing to healthcare journalists that arrived the same day Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. opened its national branding campaign, Stephen M. Shivinsky, Mercy's corporate communications chief, offered to set the record straight on "the issues surrounding nonprofit and for-profit healthcare, and the transfer of charitable assets to publicly held companies."
Prompting this concern, predictably, is the impending arrival of gatecrasher Columbia, in the form of a joint venture with Michigan Capital Medical Center in Lansing. Michigan's attorney general has filed suit to break up the deal. A hearing is set for Sept. 5.
"We have historically welcomed competition," Shivinsky notes piously, while in the next sentence he warns against "viewing healthcare as a commodity." Those who need further information may contact MHS President Judith Pelham, "a national advocate for non-profit, community-based healthcare and Catholic healthcare in particular."
Mercy, it turns out, tried to do its own deal with Michigan Capital, "in an attempt to preserve and improve the benevolent service of all of Lansing's hospitals."
Speaking of Columbia, it's figured out yet another way to exploit its size and national scope to its own advantage.
Columbia has centralized its classified advertising for job vacancies on the World Wide Web. Anyone who calls up the Columbia link within the CareerMosaic Health Care Connection Web site will find hundreds of job postings-clinical, support and administrative-at Columbia hospitals across the country and at headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.
A recent perusal of the "site within a site" yielded 38 nursing positions, listed by hospital, position and location, from Anaheim to Wichita to St. Petersburg. Also listed are positions in finance, legal, administration, physical therapy and building construction.
They even advertise for physicians. A perfectly idyllic lifestyle awaits the general surgeon who joins Columbia Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol, Calif., if the job description is to be believed.
Forget about cover letters and snail mail. Just fill out an on-line resume and zap it straight to Columbia.
CareerMosaic Health Care Connection also features jobs from such employers as the Mayo Foundation, Saudi Aramco, Moses Cone Medical System and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The Internet address is http: www.careermosaic.com.
More testimony to health industry turmoil comes from the case of Premier and Sharp HealthCare.
After announcing merger plans one year ago, the leaders of American Healthcare Systems and Premier Health Alliance were all smiles when photographed at the headquarters of Sharp, a prominent Premier shareholder. The MODERN HEALTHCARE*cover on which their picture appears (Aug. 7, 1995) is a real keeper now.
Sharp avoided termination from Premier a few months ago-but not for much longer. The San Diego system's upcoming joint venture with Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. (May 27, p. 4) won't mix with membership in the new Premier.
It seems impossible to please both Columbia and Premier, since each requires nearly exclusive use of its group-purchasing contracts. Premier officials figured Sharp would want to comply with the policies of its joint venture partner. "(Premier) told us they were going to send a notice of termination. They thought we had signed a definitive agreement (with Columbia)," said Ann Pumpian, Sharp's chief financial officer. Somewhat miffed, she explained that hurdles to the Sharp/Columbia joint venture remained, such as approval by the California attorney general.
Meanwhile, Premier is resigned to the thought of Columbia checking out its performance on product prices. After all, a number of Premier owners are talking to the for-profit chain, Premier official Patti Sweeney said. Pumpian, however, is being discreet. She declined to reveal which group negotiated sweeter deals with vendors.
In New Orleans recently, Outliers ran into Susan Loppert, arts coordinator-that's right-at London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Loppert, an art historian and critic who was passing through town, intrigued us with her description of how the 600-bed teaching hospital, built in 1993, integrates the visual and performing arts into healthcare.
We're not talking about a scattering of landscape prints by the water coolers. The revolutionary hospital, described by one art critic as "a cross between an ocean liner and an airport," contains 700 works of art, some specially commissioned for its stadium-sized ventilated atrium, public spaces and wards. "Works like these, which are about energy and savoring and relishing life, are what you need when you're lying in your hospital bed, or walking around feeling exhausted after an operation," another British critic wrote.
The hospital's Theatre for Health offers weekly performances of music, dance, theater, storytelling, mime and puppetry. The hospital even has a house orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia.
In June, the facility held what was billed as the world's first hospital music festival-a series of seven free classical concerts by noted performers. The critics raved. After one performance, a reviewer put it this way: "A trolley full of babies fell silent and a man with respiratory problems forgot his cough. Tunes help you breathe more easily."
There is even a creative music workshop for HIV patients, children and the elderly. Does art really help heal? "All I can say is my patients are getting better quicker," a hospital physician told the London Times.