A strong current of religious sentiment is further swelling the substantial tide against Optima Healthcare's plans to shift acute-care services from Catholic Medical Center to secular Elliot Hospital, both in Manchester, N.H.
Optima has a virtual monopoly on acute-care services there thanks to a sweetheart antitrust ruling that blessed the 1994 formation of the system through the merger of CMC and Elliot, the only nonfederal acute-care hospitals in town. But now that consolidation is in full swing, residents of the Catholic working-class neighborhoods on Manchester's west side, home to CMC, are pulling out all the stops to block the move of acute care across the Merrimack River.
By a 2-to-1 margin, Manchester voters approved a nonbinding referendum in November to keep both hospitals operating as acute-care facilities. And the media war waged on the ballot question brought the community to the boiling point.
"A lot of Catholics participated in the building funds (for CMC) going back generations," says state Rep. Donald Welch, who spearheaded a petition to have the state attorney general reverse the merger and put the system under state control. Welch says his constituents aren't about to give up now on a hospital many generations passed the collection plate to build.
Now a new front has opened that promises to further intensify the debate. Two weeks ago, Optima's board voted to ban abortions at Elliot facilities at the same time it approved a policy stating religious beliefs would not influence patient access to care, the staff's freedom of religious choice, or policies and regulations at Elliot.
Catholics hailed the anti-abortion decision in the local press while pro-choice groups threatened lawsuits to reverse the decision. Meanwhile, the attorney general is reviewing the merger and Optima's charitable status, as Welch and his fellow petitioners had asked.
Yo, cabbie! How does a hospital let the community know about cancer screenings and other programs aimed at preventing catastrophic cancer [email protected] If you're Washington Hospital Center in the District of Columbia, you hail a taxi.
Well, not exactly, but for three months this fall, some people who did use cabs received information on programs aimed at catching cancer early. From September through November, 2,500 D.C. taxi drivers distributed receipts that publicized free prostate cancer screenings, a "girlfriend" program that encouraged women to come to the hospital in groups of two or more for mammograms, and some publicity on an upcoming campaign on colorectal cancer.
Washington Hospital Center chose the cab receipts as a publicity tool because as an urban facility located some distance from a subway line many of its patients rely on taxis for transportation to and from treatments, says Keith Montgomery, manager of marketing and communications for the hospital.
The [email protected] Montgomery says the hospital filled its appointments for its free prostate cancer screenings in September more quickly than ever, while the girlfriend program brought in 67 women for mammograms, 17 more than the hospital hoped for.
Murky crystal ball. Oxford Health Plans' recent earnings debacle took stock analysts and the media by surprise. But the Norwalk, Conn.-based HMO really had the Economist snowed. The Oct. 4 U.S. edition of the British business magazine carried a rave review of Oxford, noting, "With no post-merger confusion to contend with, Oxford has arguably the slickest billing and data-processing department in the industry." Oxford blamed much of its second-half losses on computer problems that caused it to fail to accurately track its cash flow.
The doctor is in . . . the office. House calls are disappearing in the U.S. in part because doctors have become dependent on modern medical technology they can't carry in their black bags, researchers say.
An analysis of Medicare claims in 1993 found that fewer than 1% of elderly patients received house calls. Most of those patients were very sick or dying, according to the study in the Dec. 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The main reasons for the decline are low Medicare payments for house calls and the failure of medical schools to train students in low-tech diagnosis, such as listening to a patient's breathing with a stethoscope, says the study's lead author, Gregg Meyer, M.D., of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.
While Medicare pays $20 more for a home visit than an office appointment, the time and travel for the home visit overwhelm that additional payment, the study found.
Quotable. "I don't know if it was there before this meeting or if it was put in for the meeting, but I noticed a Sunbeam hairdryer in my bathroom this morning." -- Texas physician Clifford Burross, speaking at the American Medical Association's House of Delegates meeting in Dallas earlier this month, where delegates formulated a response to the controversial Sunbeam Corp. endorsement deal.
PC -- or [email protected] The newest effort by Sun Microsystems to get its Internet-based Java programming language off the ground includes launching an enigmatic comic-book character called Javaman into our consciousness.
A mailing for a Jan. 13 media and investor-analyst event in San Francisco has the masked mysterion intimating he will unveil something that will "shake things up" for computers. Javaman has futuristic written all over him.
Maybe Outliers is living in the past, but the first association that "Javaman" brings to mind is the prehistoric human being dug up a long time ago on the island of Java.
The two namesakes belong to difference ages: Stone vs. Information. But if Sun is trying to position Java as the missing link in computer networking, they may have more in common than at first glance.