What were you thinking about, Nicole Miller?
The American Hospital Association and the American Organization of Nurse Executives have chided the New York design house for an ad it ran in last month's issue of Golf magazine. Headlined "Playing doctor," the ad for men's golf apparel featured four real doctors and three female models, who posed as caddies for the docs and were scantily clad in Nicole Miller swimwear and nurse hats.
Apparently, the groups' scorn didn't extend to the doctors who appeared in the ad, New York-area radiologists L.A. Saint Louis and Bala R. Subramanyam and New York University Medical Center internists Arthur Lebowitz and Mark Newman.
"Portraying (nurses) as underclothed drapery for male physicians is an unforgivable trivialization of an extremely important profession," leaders of the two groups wrote in a scathing letter to Bud Konheim, chief executive officer of the clothier.
The groups accused the advertisement of making "a mockery of nurses and women everywhere."
After getting hundreds of letters, the clothier cried mea culpa and pulled the ad.
In an open letter to Nicole Miller customers and Golf subscribers, Konheim apologized and tried to explain.
The ad, he said, was the work of an advertising agency. He said other women reviewed the ad before it was published and thought it was funny.
"As it is with any gaffe, it is too late to grab the words and shove them back in your mouth,' Konheim wrote. "It is too late to change this ad. Rest assured, the next one will be in better taste."
PhyCor's values.Normally low-key PhyCor made a high-profile appointment to its board last week. It added outspoken evangelical anti-abortion activist Kay Coles James, calling her a "natural fit."
"She matches up very much with the values of the executive management," says President Joe Hutts.
The Nashville-based physician practice management company has a little-known policy of prohibiting abortions at clinics it owns or leases, although physicians affiliated with the company may choose to perform abortions outside those facilities, Hutts says.
James is a familiar figure on the religious right, having served with the Reagan and Bush administrations, the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council. As health and human resources secretary under Virginia Gov. George Allen, she fashioned a get-tough welfare overhaul and launched a campaign to promote sexual abstinence.
Now dean of government at Pat Robertson's Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., James last month was named to lead a federal commission to study the impact of legalized gambling, prompting outcries from the gaming industry. She's been mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Ralph Reed as executive director of the Christian Coalition.
Hutts says he doesn't think her political bent will draw controversy to PhyCor. "She was an excellent person who was ready to get on a board or two."
Quotable."You cannot make money under Medicare risk with 350 lives."-Jerry Coe, principal, Coe Management Group, Seattle, at the National Rural Health Association annual meeting in Seattle late last month. Coe was advising rural providers to "organize locally," then link up over a broader region to manage the risks inherent in capitation.
Not set in stone.A subsidiary owned by Kaiser Permanente medical groups, formed to explore for-profit business ventures, is now called Permanente Co., or PermCo, for short. Seems the former name, PermCorp, was already taken, reportedly by a cement company in Texas. The 12 medical groups serving Kaiser Permanente Health Plans are now called the Permanente Federation.
Pete the Obscure.When members of Congress sport political pins, it's usually an issue of broad national debate. But when Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) hands out pins in his Capitol Hill office, it can be about an arcane healthcare issue.
A basket in the reception area of Stark's office recently contained pins expressing his fear that a physician self-referral law in his name may be rolled back when Congress passes legislation aiming at a balanced budget in 2002. The phrase "Referrals for profit" appears on the pin in a circle with a line through it, a reference that must leave some of Stark's constituents puzzled.
Congress' balanced-budget act in 1995, which may be the template for balanced-budget legislation soon up for congressional approval, would have exempted several types of healthcare businesses from self-referral bans under the so-called "Stark II" legislation passed in 1993 and would have repealed separate bans on physician compensation based on their referrals.
Notably, the 1995 Stark II rollback would have allowed physicians to refer patients to hospitals in which they own an interest.
Both laws could come into play in the federal government's probe of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. And that's a point not lost on Stark, who was gleeful when federal agents raided Columbia facilities in El Paso, Texas (March 31, p. 44).