The hands-off management style of the troubled Los Medanos Community Hospital District in California is being taken to heart by its individual trustees.
Temporary restraining orders were obtained earlier this month in Contra Costa County Superior Court by Los Medanos District Chairman Al Prince and trustee Roseanne Lazio against trustee Jerry Rice. A third trustee, Bruce Croskey, also sought a restraining order but was denied. The restraining orders follow an alleged series of altercations on July 13. A hearing on whether to extend the orders is set for Aug. 7.
According to Prince, court documents and reports in the Ledger-Dispatch newspaper of Antioch, Calif., Rice verbally threatened Lazio and hospital attorney Andrea Porter following the scheduled July 13 board meeting and blocked Lazio from leaving the district parking lot for several minutes. He then confronted Prince in the parking lot of a nearby supermarket and allegedly sucker-punched him on the left side of his head.
"It's part of an ongoing pattern of abuse from him, and this occurred in front of many witnesses," Prince says.
The Pittsburg Police Department is investigating the incidents, but no charges have been filed, according to published reports. A call to investigators was not immediately returned.
In addition to the restraining orders, Prince, Lazio and Croskey have filed a lawsuit against Rice, claiming his behavior has caused them severe emotional distress.
Rice left an unsolicited phone mail message with MODERN HEALTHCARE contending the alleged attack against Prince was fabricated to discredit his persistent criticism of the hospital district, which is about 40 miles northeast of San Francisco. He did not return a phone call seeking further comment.
The restraining orders require Rice to stay at least 100 yards away from Prince, Lazio and members of their families, except during board meetings, Prince says. But just how much longer meetings will be conducted by the district remains a question. The alleged fisticuffs come just a month after a county grand jury took the rare step of recommending the district, which is in bankruptcy protection, be dissolved because of chronic mismanagement (June 29, p. 114).
A push for secrecy. It seems the American Medical Association's annual physician income survey (See related story, p. 33) is making it hard for doctors to whine about managed care. In fact, there's a movement to keep a lid on future income data.
Some physicians bristled at media coverage of the latest survey, including a story on the front page of the April 22 New York Times. The survey showed rising physician incomes for the second year in a row (March 30, p. 3).
At its annual summer meeting last month, the AMA House of Delegates considered resolutions calling on the organization to dissolve the survey, change its methodology to include lower-paid federal physicians and residents, or conduct a new survey that would "clearly determine the impact of current reimbursement practices and managed care."
One proposal called on the AMA not to voluntarily disseminate physician income data to the public. Fortunately for the public, cooler heads prevailed. The matter was referred to the AMA's board of trustees for further study.
Start-up offers doc a new start. With the help of some well-heeled friends, a cardiologist who embezzled more than $2 million from the Cleveland Clinic has found a new line of work: developing a heart hospital in suburban Columbus, Ohio.
Robert Graor, 48, formerly the clinic's chairman of vascular medicine, lost his Ohio medical license in 1995 and served 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to theft by falsifying expense reports.
Now he's promoting HeartOne Hospital of Ohio, the proposed 67-bed, for-profit facility, to local physicians, who will be offered shares for $200,000 apiece. Integrated Medical Management, a Columbus-based start-up holding company, hopes to attract at least 30 physician investors in the $40 million facility, slated to open in Dublin, Ohio, in late 1999. The company wants to develop other projects as well.
Graor, who is employed as a consultant, says some physicians have been eager to invest despite his criminal record. "If they are worried about that aspect of it, it's ill-founded," he says. "I will never touch their money." He praised a handful of physicians and businesspeople who put their money and reputations on the line for his chance at redemption.
One notable investor is Dan Evans, chairman of Columbus-based restaurant chain and sausage company Bob Evans Farms. Evans, a former patient who has credited Graor with saving his life, lobbied for Graor's early release from prison and paid his $500,000 restitution to the clinic, according to media reports.
What about the irony of having a sausage kingpin as a major backer of a heart hospital?
"This is predominantly a public service issue for Dan Evans," Graor says. He added, "There are a lot of things on his menu that are good for your heart."
Farewell, Dr. Welby. He played the quintessential family doctor: warm, friendly, deeply caring, omniscient-and willing to spend seemingly unlimited time with his patients. Robert Young, who starred in the title role of ABC's "Marcus Welby, M.D.," died last week in California at age 91. The series ran from 1969 to 1976. In today's managed-care era, he would have been everyone's favorite gatekeeper. Young also will be fondly remembered for his role as the quintessential dad in the long-running TV series "Father Knows Best."
Quotable. "I would hope as a matter of fairness, none. After all, I wasn't one of the guys who tried to oust Newt."
-Rep. Greg Ganske (R-Iowa), responding to questions about whether he expected retribution from House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and the rest of the GOP leadership, some of whom tried to unseat Gingrich a year ago, after appearing with President Clinton at a Democratic patient-protection rally earlier this month.