For-profit hospitals have to do a better job of telling their story.
That was a key message coming out of last week's Federation of American Health Systems 1997 conference in Las Vegas.
"Don't let anyone take for granted the services you contribute to your communities," said Bruce Gilbert, general counsel for King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services.
At the gathering, Gilbert was elected 1997 federation chairman by the group's board of governors.
He told federation members their industry is under attack and they have to be above reproach in dealing with their competitors and critics.
Nashville-based Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Scott agreed, saying for-profit hospitals have to highlight compassion.
"We have to sell ourselves and give patients information," Scott said. "We have to tell our story."
Along the same lines, James Dalton Jr., president and CEO of Quorum Health Group of Brentwood, Tenn., said for-profit hospitals have to "tone down their rhetoric" in making references to not-for-profit hospitals as nontaxpaying.
"We need to stop aggravating the situation," said Dalton, whose company owns for-profit hospitals and manages not-for-profit hospitals.
Meanwhile, outside Bally's Las Vegas Hotel, where the conference took place, the Service Employees International Union held its latest protest against Columbia. Security guards stood by as the conference continued, but there were no disruptions.
Attendance at this year's convention was up about 10% to 2,200, according to the federation's latest count at deadline Friday. About 2,000 attended last year's meeting.
There were 305 exhibitors spread across a 70,000-square-foot exhibit hall.
Next year's meeting will be held April 6-8, 1998, at the Sheraton Hotel in Washington.