Richard Scott apparently was devising a last-ditch attempt to clean up the image of his company before he was forced to resign as chairman and chief executive officer of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.
Two weeks before his July 25 resignation, and days before the federal government executed a barrage of search warrants at Columbia facilities, Scott invited the CEOs of several not-for-profit health systems to participate in an initiative to "focus on issues of ethics and corporate compliance" in healthcare.
MODERN HEALTHCARE*obtained a copy of a letter dated July 11 that Scott sent to the CEO of one not-for-profit hospital. In the letter, Scott said he was part of a group of senior industry officials who decided to form the initiative, which would "educate the public and the government about the dedication to integrity and compliance within our industry."
Scott said participants would exchange best practices and discuss compliance issues. He added, "If the initiative accomplishes nothing else, I think we can all agree that improving the relationship and the level of trust between our industry and government officials would be sufficient reasons to engage in these efforts."
The letter was accompanied by a list of five ethical "principles," to be followed by companies that agreed to participate.
But the plan never got out of the box. A meeting to establish a steering committee of CEOs and a working group of general counsels was to take place at a Washington law office July 31, according to the letter. Six days before that date, Scott stepped down.
More green for the Garden State.New Jersey hospital leaders are delighting in the financial coup its congressional delegation managed to pull off as part of the recently enacted federal budget package.
Without having a heavyweight in any of the key legislative committee posts, New Jersey snagged a provision worth an estimated $600 million to $700 million over three years. The relief benefits 27 Garden State hospitals that have negative Medicare inpatient margins and receive no additional Medicare funding, such as teaching or disproportionate-share payments. "Low-margin" hospitals will receive a 0.5% add-on to their rates in fiscal 1998 and 0.3% in 1999. Hospitals nationwide that meet the criteria also will benefit from the provision won by New Jersey lawmakers.
"This delegation has no leadership members.*.*.*and they did incredible things," said an elated Peter Lillo, vice president of government relations at the New Jersey Hospital Association. "This was a total bipartisan effort."
Of guinea pigs and libel suits.High-browed Harper's Magazine has extended an olive branch to Allegheny University of the Health Sciences-Medical College of Pennsylvania in an apparent attempt to thwart a pending libel suit.
The August issue of Harper's contains a noteworthy clarification and apology over an item called "The Life of a Guinea Pig," which appeared in the magazine's July issue.
The dispute stems from a monthly feature called Readings, in which Harper's reprints bits of prose from unusual sources. Last month it ran passages from the August 1996 issue of Guinea Pig Zero, a magazine for people who earn their living as participants in medical research.
Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation, the hospital's parent, went to court alleging Harper's defamed Medical College of Pennsylvania by reprinting Guinea Pig Zero's unflattering and incorrect assessment of its clinical research procedures. The offending item was a report card on research programs that gave Medical College of Pennsylvania an "F" and concluded: "This hellhole should be shut down for good!"
A Harper's spokesman declined to comment on the status of the case or whether the two sides had been in contact since the correction was published. AHERF, too, declined comment. And repeated calls to Sprague & Sprague, the Philadelphia law firm representing AHERF, had not been returned at press time.
A Missouri waltz.The federal lobbyist for the Missouri Hospital Association has resigned her job and gone fishing. Actually, Dian Sprenger and one of her lobbying targets lobbied each other right up to the altar. Her husband, as of Aug. 9, is retired Missouri Congressman Harold Volkmer, who entered Congress the same year Sprenger started with the hospital association. Volkmer, 66, and Sprenger, 47, were both widowed in 1995.
Although they'd known each other for 20 years, the sparks flew at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago last year. Attending many of the same functions, "we ended up just being together and actually took a couple cabs together and stuff like that," Sprenger said amid giggles on the day before the wedding. "We realized we were enjoying each other's company."
Volkmer is a Democrat, but Sprenger would rather not divulge her political affiliation, adding, "I'm probably more of a Democrat than a Republican, and becoming more so all the time." They'll spend their time traveling. Also, "Harold likes to fish a lot. He's been teaching me how to fish."
What Mary Poppins never told us.The headline "Sugar-dipped pacifier and improved restraint ease circumcision distress" sure grabbed Outliers' attention. And the accompanying article described in a press release from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows a spoonful of sugar can do more than help the medicine go down.
The article in the August issue of the academy's Internet journal concluded that a sugar-coated pacifier lessened the pain among infants undergoing circumcision with the aid of a local anesthetic, according to researchers at Fairview Riverside Medical Center in Minneapolis. So did a newly designed padded restraint chair.
To see the chair and sugar formula, visit the academy's electronic journal on the World Wide Web at http: www.pediatrics.org.