Brooklyn's Coney Island Hospital recently raised the ire of local labor officials when it announced that it was converting its employee cafeteria into a privately run food court. Among the offerings in the new food court will be a Burger King.
Local 420, an affiliate of AFSCME, complained that the food court was costing union employees their jobs and staged several small protests in front of the hospital. Despite assurances from the hospital that the four full-time equivalent employees will not lose their jobs, the president of Local 420 pledged to "keep boycotting (the hospital) until we send Mr. Burger King and his killer Whopper packing."
Come to think of it, the Taco Bell Chihuahua probably can be blamed for NAFTA.
Change of heart. Last fall, not long after UnitedHealthcare announced its decision to eliminate preauthorization requirements, the Medical Society of New Jersey denounced the policy, calling it a sham.
Since then, the society and United have been meeting to smooth the waters.
Must've been some great meetings: During the society's annual meeting in May, it called United "physician-friendly" and hailed the elimination of preauthorization as a "trailblazing approach." The society further cited the health plan as a leader in reducing the paperwork necessary for patients to receive care. At the same time, the society slammed other plans for "heavy-handed" approaches with physicians.
Could it be that the medical society has discovered a new way to make friends by calling names and then making nice? Wouldn't rule it out, funny face.
Suffering for art. When Carlos Espinel, M.D., studies a work of art, he sees much more than brush strokes and color. In Raphael's famous fresco "School of Athens," for example, Espinel sees gout. And in a 1659 work by Rembrandt, he sees the artist's depression.
Espinel, director of the Blood Pressure Center in Arlington, Va., believes artists' works are a reflection of their state of health and writes a semiregular column called "ArtMedicine" for the British medical journal The Lancet. In that column, Espinel wrote that studying art to diagnose medical conditions is not too different from what physicians do every day.
"Examining a face is venturing into the depths of the human condition--a daily journey for a physician," he says.
In addition to diagnosing clinical depression in Rembrandt, Espinel identifies the gout sufferer in Raphael's fresco as none other than Michelangelo and also believes that the sculptor suffered from kidney stones.
Of Rembrandt, Espinel wrote in The Lancet: "In his work one wonders about his preference for dark colours and the portrayal of bleak moods in his subjects. Rembrandt would withdraw, go months without working, and in the end he became dependent on others--all behaviours suggestive of depression."
Espinel has not yet diagnosed the poker-playing dogs nor the collection of velvet Elvis artworks.
Evita part II. When Aetna CEO William Donaldson spoke to the Connecticut State Medical Society on May 10, he lamented the high cost of providing coverage for Medicare recipients. After being asked whether Aetna would remain in the managed care Medicare business, Donaldson noted: "For every $1 we take in, we lose $1.30. You simply can't run a business that way."
As if on cue, most physicians in the audience yelled, "We know."
As Donaldson smiled, another physician hollered, "Don't cry to us."
Such a deal. Worried that the consultant for which you shelled out major bucks hasn't resulted in any substantial changes? Has Virginia Beach, Va.-based Horizon Group got a deal for you. It's offering clients a guaranteed return on their consulting investments. Unless Horizon achieves a financial target preset by the client and consultants, the bulk of the professional fee is waived.
"If we don't produce results, we don't get paid," says Horizon Group President Greg Mertz. "The client can't lose."
If the HMO industry continues on its path of financial demise, perhaps it ought to look into this service.