Any facility that wants to can call itself a "university hospital," which is fortunate for two hospitals in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Apparently hoping to capitalize on "university" status, 503-bed Sioux Valley Hospital and University Medical Center and 521-bed Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center have become something they weren't just a year ago.
Until then the former was, simply, Sioux Valley Hospital and the latter, simply, Avera McKennan Hospital.
"Who can call themselves a `university hospital?' The answer is: Anybody," says Robert Dickler, senior vice president in the division of healthcare affairs for the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Each of those two hospitals trains an average of 11 medical residents each month from the nearby University of South Dakota medical school, according to the school. The town's third hospital, 110-bed Royal C. Johnson Veterans Memorial Hospital, trains about twice that number, the school says. No plans are afoot to change Johnson's name.
Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and chief executive officer of Sioux Valley, says his hospital earns the "university" status by contributing $4.5 million to $5.5 million yearly to the USD medical school. Avera contributes about $1.5 million a year to the school. President and CEO Fred Slunecka says Avera's new name reflects the hospital's relationships with 33 institutions of higher education.
Sioux Valley made the name change a year ago; Avera will officially make its change June 1. Suspicious minds might say Avera changed its name to keep up with Sioux Valley. If so, they'll have to make another change: Sioux Valley has just agreed to donate $10 million to the USD in return for 30-year exclusive rights to use the university's name.
Life sentence. You might not expect one of the most notorious maximum security prisons in the country to win an award for the care of dying patients. But that's what happened when the Louisiana State Penitentiary Hospice in Angola received a Circle of Life Award during the annual Health Forum Summit held earlier this month in Orlando, Fla. The new $25,000 award honored the 3-year-old prison hospice, which uses inmate volunteers to care for dying prisoners. More than 85% of the prison's 5,100 inmates, most serving life sentences, will die while incarcerated.
Ironic? Perhaps: Prison officials explained in their award application that some have called a prison hospice program inappropriate, claiming that "inmates don't deserve to die comfortably and with dignity when their victims didn't."
Waste not . . . Bess Kaiser Hospital may have closed its doors three years ago, but pieces of it are now helping patients around the world.
Doors, cabinets, sinks and other odds-and-ends from the former Portland, Ore., hospital were shipped this month to San Pedro Sula, a small village in Honduras. Mercy Corps International, a healthcare-related charity, is helping the village build a hospital.
The shipment was the third of five that will go to healthcare facilities in Central America, the Balkans and Central Asia, where Mercy Corps works. Two 40-foot containers, each holding 48,000 pounds of materials valued at $80,000, were recently sent to Azerbaijan; another shipment went to Montenegro and Kyrgyzstan.
Pass the Viagra. Can sexual intimacy improve long-term care? Judges in the Brookdale Center on Aging's 2000 National Best Practice Awards thought so. One of its three awards went to a training program called "Sex and Sexuality in Long Term Care," which aims to "improve the quality of life of older people in long-term-care settings by improving their opportunities for intimacy and sexual expression." Caregivers learn through videos and manuals to have "positive attitudes and appropriate responses" to residents' sexual expressions.
Bonnie Walker and Associates of Bowie, Md., a healthcare consulting firm, developed the program, which has been successfully field-tested in several facilities. Look for public distribution this spring by the American Health Care Association.
Where have all the autopsies gone? That's the question posed by an article on the Medscape World Wide Web site last month. According to the article--"Medical Error and Outcomes Measures: Where Have All the Autopsies Gone?"--autopsies traditionally have served as a means to evaluate quality in medical care. The clinical information gleaned from an autopsy can help doctors avert misdiagnoses and the medical errors that result. However, national autopsy rates declined to 9.4% in 1994 from 19.1% in 1972 and have continued to decline since, the authors contend. Hubris is the culprit, they say, with too many doctors overconfident in their new diagnostic tools to want to check their accuracy by surgically examining the cadaver. The April 28 article can be found in the MedGenMed section of www.medscape.com
"Head" lines. When Eli Lilly & Co., Indianapolis, on May 12 announced the results of a clinical trial testing two drugs designed to treat schizophrenia, its press release bragged that a "head-to-head comparison" showed Lilly's antipsychotic drug to be more effective and cheaper than the comparison drug. A spokesman for the company said the phrase was a technical description of the study design, not a reference to the part of the anatomy the study compared. Outliers respectfully suggests that the next time Eli Lilly wants to write a good headline, it should use its head.