Though Richard Scrushy is temporarily atop both MedPartners and HealthSouth Corp., he's quelling industry speculation that he might try to bring the two companies together.
"These are two separate businesses and two separate focuses," Scrushy says of HealthSouth, an outpatient surgery and rehabilitation services provider, and MedPartners, a physician practice management company. He took over the reins of MedPartners last month upon the resignation of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Larry House (Jan. 19, p. 4).
"I helped found (MedPartners), and I'm very close to the company, but I don't ever see a merger" of the two Birmingham, Ala.-based firms, he says.
The 44-year-old Scrushy says he'll be able to run both companies at the same time, adding an extra "three or four hours" to his daily grind. Scrushy has been a MedPartners board member since the PPM was founded in 1993. He has been HealthSouth's top executive since he founded the company in 1984.
Meanwhile, House, who spent most of his career under Scrushy's wing, hasn't landed far from the nest. Now in semi-retirement, the 54-year-old will commit his time to 21st Century Health Ventures, a new private equity fund that was the brainchild of Scrushy and Michael Martin, HealthSouth's chief financial officer.
As a principal at the fund, House will analyze potential investments. "It's really his forte," Scrushy told Outliers.
The fund seeks ventures that are outside of HealthSouth's scope but could benefit from its industry knowledge, network operating know-how and financing acumen, fund principal Will Hicks says.
Operating out of HealthSouth offices, the fund gives its host favorable investment terms but also seeks other investors. So far, it has invested in one assisted-living company.
Deadbeat docs. HHS has decided to make life a little miserable for doctors who have defaulted on federally guaranteed student loans.
The department last week forwarded to its inspector general's office the names of 1,402 doctors who owe a collective $107 million in Health Education Assistance Loans payments. That sets them up for exclusion from the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
If that weren't enough, HHS also posted their names on the Internet (at www.defaulteddocs.dhhs.gov) as part of an effort to bring public pressure to bear on the doctors to pay up. Other actions include reporting their names to the Justice Department for possible legal action to get the doctors to pay their debts.
The largest group of doctors were chiropractors, but dentists, physicians, podiatrists and other practitioners were represented. The majority live in California, Florida, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.
"They must pay up or lose out," says HHS Secretary Donna Shalala.
Counsel at large. Attendees at the American Hospital Association's 100th anniversary gala this week should get a twinge of deja vu when they see attorney Joseph diGenova.
Besides his speaking gig at the AHA's big shindig, diGenova is popping up all over on TV offering legal commentary on everything from sex scandals in the White House to the high-profile bombing trials of Timothy McVeigh and Theodore Kaczynski.
And diGenova should know of what he speaks. A former U.S. attorney in Washington from 1983 to 1988, diGenova, 52, also served as an independent counsel from 1992 to 1995.
"We think lawyers have a duty to explain the legal process to the American people," says diGenova, who is in private practice in Washington with his wife, Victoria Toensing.
At the AHA, diGenova is scheduled to speak about an industry favorite: the misuse of the federal False Claims Act in hospital billing investigations.
The AHA retained diGenova last fall to help plot its legal strategy in this area.
In the power corner. Feng shui, the ancient Asian art of design, uses strategic placement of furniture and objects to promote health and well-being. So it shouldn't really come as a surprise to find it being used in a hospital.
But it's still unusual to find a chief executive officer of a hospital in a working-class Chicago suburb applying feng shui in his own office, and still more noteworthy to learn he spent his own money to do it.
Ken Fishbain, CEO of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., hired an architect who had recently added feng shui to her practice.
Until this past August, Fishbain's desk faced a large picture window. But the hospital's expansion blocked his view, and he found himself twisting to get at his computer. In his case, efficiency and feng shui were in happy agreement: By turning his desk to face the door, Fishbain not only has his computer at hand, but also has put himself in the "power corner" opposite his office door.
With his backside protected by the wall, relieving the "fight or flight" tension that feng shui recognizes in all of us, Fishbain is free to concentrate fully on whatever materializes in front of him.
Photos of his two cute kids are no longer scattered haphazardly around the office. They're grouped behind him, opposite the power corner, in what his architect says is the marriage/children quadrant, a placement designed to promote a happier family life.
To keep Fishbain connected to nature while he wrestles with the headaches of managed care, the architect installed a small, three-tiered, terra-cotta water fountain. And to corral a positive chi, or energy flow, during meetings, she placed three (not four) chairs around a small round table in the wealth quadrant.
So far, so good, Fishbain reports. Two long-warring parties unexpectedly reached an agreement at the table shortly after the architect did her thing.
And even if he couldn't detect any immediate benefit from the new furniture arrangement, he wouldn't return the office to its previous state. "This stuff is too heavy to move again," he says.