The board of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. last month promoted David Vandewater to president of the Nashville, Tenn.-based hospital chain. The title had been held by Richard Scott, who remains the company's chairman and chief executive officer. Vandewater retains the title of chief operating officer, which he has held since 1991. Scott cited Vandewater's leadership in "working with physicians and employees" as the reason for the promotion. With 347 hospitals, Columbia is the nation's largest hospital chain.
Three hospitals on the eastern end of Long Island, N.Y., got the nod from state health officials to establish a new parent organization-Peconic Health Corp. Thomas B. Doolan, president and chief executive officer of Greenport, N.Y.-based Eastern Long Island Hospital, will serve as Peconic's president and CEO. Joseph F. Turner, president of Central Suffolk Hospital, Riverhead, N.Y., and John J. Ferry, Jr., M.D., president and CEO of Southampton (N.Y.) Hospital, were named executive vice presidents of the company. In February, the three hospitals said they would create a single holding company to develop and implement strategic plans for each facility and approve operating and capital budgets, eliminating duplicative services and pursuing other cost efficiencies. However, each hospital is retaining its board and management, said Helen Cox, Doolan's executive assistant. While the deal doesn't involve a merger of assets, that's a possibility "down the road," she said.
University of Michigan regents have approved a restructuring plan for management of the school's medical center, ending speculation that the system could be sold or merged. Regents voted last week to establish the position of senior executive vice president for medical affairs. That person, who has not been hired, will oversee the university hospitals, medical school and M-Care, a health insurance company. The executive director of the hospitals and the dean of the medical school will report to the new vice president, who in turn will report to the university president. Regent Nellie Varner said the new management will give the medical center "a structure to make decisions quickly and the ability to function like a business, rather than an academic unit." The medical center accounts for one-third of the university's assets and half its cash flow.
A study of hospital patients in northeastern Ohio concluded that blacks have a lower predicted risk of death on hospital admission and a lower in-hospital death rate than whites. However, the study, reported in the Nov. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, also concluded that the findings may be linked to inadequate access to primary care for blacks. "The findings that the African-American patients in our study were more likely to be admitted from emergency departments and to be underinsured suggest that African-Americans may be less likely to have primary-care physicians," said the study. "Thus, thresholds for admitting African-American patients may be lower because of greater difficulty in managing problems on an outpatient basis or because of uncertainty about the availability of adequate follow-up care." The study was made of 88,205 patients discharged from 30 hospitals in northeastern Ohio from 1991 through 1993.
Sheila Burke, who was instrumental in developing health policy for Bob Dole during his tenure in the Senate, has been named executive dean at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Burke, a nurse and former medical school teacher, is a political moderate who often has been criticized by conservative Republicans for supporting programs to increase access to healthcare.
The Association of Academic Health Centers is continuing its study of its threatened members' organizational strengths and weaknesses with a $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The University HealthSystem Consortium also is funding the study, which will cost a total of $500,000. It is due for release in March 1998. Academic medical centers, particularly, have struggled with the growth of managed care because of their relatively high cost structures.