The point-counterpoint continues over CBS News' scathing report by "60 Minutes II" on conditions inside a Charter Behavioral Health Systems hospital in Charlotte, N.C. (April 26, p. 16).
CBS offers a page on its World Wide Web site that includes memos, letters and a transcript of a videotaped statement from Charter rebutting key parts of the CBS story. Charter argues, for instance, that the report gave the false impression that staff were not properly trained.
"All staff shown to have hands on a patient during a seclusion or restraint had received prior training in CIT (critical incident training) or MAB (management of aggressive behavior)," according to the Charter transcript. But at www.cbs.com, you can bet who gets the last word. The network notes that at least three employees shown handling patients on tape had said they had not been trained, and dozens of other employees told CBS that training was "infrequent and inadequate."
Charter sent the rebuttals hoping they would be included when CBS rebroadcast the piece in June, a spokeswoman said. Instead, CBS has posted the comments under the "New developments" heading on its page spotlighting the "60 Minutes II" program. CBS offers rejoinders for each of Charter's points.
For P.A. services rendered. Doctors increasingly rely on physician assistants to ease their workloads, but many don't know how to bill for the services.
That's according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, which plans to launch a service this September to help physicians maximize reimbursements for the use of physician assistants.
The service, called the Network for Supervising Physicians, will include a bimonthly newsletter, fax-on-demand system and toll-free hotline. For $99 a year, subscribers will receive advice on legal issues, compensation, utilization and other topics.
The network is the academy's "latest initiative to promote the team approach to healthcare," says Stephen Crane, the group's executive vice president. The number of practicing physician assistants totals about 34,000, up 36% from 1995, according to the Alexandria, Va.-based group.
That was then . . . Five years ago, when the event was planned, Hawaii might have seemed like a great place to hold the American Health Care Association's 50th annual convention. But now the locale of the nursing home trade group's September bash may prove somewhat embarrassing.
The AHCA is petitioning Congress to roll back Medicare cuts, claiming homes may no longer have the money to provide quality care. The spectacle of industry executives basking on the beach might not be the most convincing demonstration of the industry's need for more cash.
Conceding that the lobbying campaign and the convention location are "an unfortunate juxtaposition," AHCA spokesman Tom Burke said that relocating the conference at so late a date would have cost the association "hundreds of thousands of dollars." Burke says he expects the convention, which usually attracts several thousand members, to be smaller this year.
Less is more. Oh, the indecency of derriere-exposing hospital garb! It's a perennial complaint of hospital patients. It's no different at Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center.
To see the naked truth, "all you have to do is walk around in a hospital," says John Ferguson, president and chief executive officer at the 629-bed facility. "It's ridiculous. There's absolutely no dignity."
Ferguson's staff canvassed national vendors for decent duds but came up empty-handed. That's when they enlisted Seventh Avenue couturier Cynthia Rowley to solve the hospital's fashion emergency.
Inspired by interviews with nurses and patients, Rowley produced a line of "hospital chic" gowns, tops, robes and drawstring pants in snazzy prints and subtle stripes that any self-respecting man, woman or child would be happy to wear. Trendy yet practical, the clothes come with a length of elastic here, a snap there, to cover backsides without frustrating busy physicians and phlebotomists. Some garments have pockets for carrying intravenous lines. Scoop-neck, tie-front gowns make it easy for mom to nurse baby.
Hackensack will begin dressing patients in designer garb this September.
Ferguson says Rowley earned a "very, very nominal fee" for her designs. The vestments themselves are expected to cost roughly $6 a pop, the same as the drab, flimsy numbers currently in use. Even if they run $2 apiece more, Hackensack's "fashion faux pas" fighter says it's money well spent. "I honestly think the patients are going to be so much happier," he says.
Quotables. "I have some idea of what it's like to make house calls in rural areas."-Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), a veterinarian by trade, jokingly explaining why he is supporting a bill to reverse some Medicare cuts to home health agencies.
"They can sit behind him and make faces."-Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), referring to Joel Klein, head of the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division, and Robert Pitofsky, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, as they watched Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) testify in support of his bill to allow physicians to collectively negotiate, which is currently against antitrust law.
"They can make faces. It's the gestures I'm worried about."-House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), who presided over the June 22 hearing.