When Nancy Dickenson was undergoing treatment for cancer six years ago at St. Vincent Hospital, Santa Fe, N.M., she found the waiting room and gravel areas outside the hospital depressing.
So she talked to her oncologist about whether the 268-bed hospital would consider building a garden and an atrium so that patients would have a more comforting space in which to find solace.
The oncologist passed along the idea to the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation board, of which he is a member, and it launched a fund-raising campaign that collected more than $600,000 to build the Healing Garden and atrium.
Work on the garden was completed this summer, and its opening was scheduled for last week. St. Vincent says the garden is the first in New Mexico and one of the first in the country to embrace the connection between nature and patients and how nature helps patients and their families feel more calm and hopeful about cancer-treatment outcomes.
The garden is adjacent to the hospital's cancer center, although all hospital patients and staff are welcome.
Planted with native vegetation, the garden also features "dichos," which are reflective expressions--in both English and Spanish--carved into rock and scattered throughout the landscape.
Another focal point is a 22-by-8-foot brightly colored fresco depicting the cycle of life, painted by an internationally known local artist, Frederico Vigil.
Dickenson says the garden gives patients a sense of life and beauty. "If for one moment it adds to your healing, then that's the purpose of it."
Rumors of death. You'd think rescue workers would know how to tell if a person is dead.
On Sept. 24 near Des Moines, Iowa, rescue workers' inability to determine an elderly woman's status with regard to this world may have hastened her passage into the next.
Around 1 p.m. that day, rescue workers were called to the Runnells, Iowa, home of 91-year-old Gladys Furnoy.
"It came in as a possible Code 4, a death," says Assistant Chief Dave Long of the Polk County sheriff's office.
The rescue workers notified dispatchers that Furnoy appeared to be dead. A bit later Mary Jane Blair, an investigator with the Polk County Medical Examiner's office, arrived. "The lady wasn't dead," Blair says. "We called for help."
An ambulance helicopter arrived shortly and took the elderly woman to 556-bed Mercy Hospital Medical Center in Des Moines; in all, Furnoy's ambulance trip was delayed about an hour. She died around 7: 40 p.m. that night.
According to Blair, the cause of Furnoy's death appeared to be a stroke.
Imagine. Nashville's Thomas Frist Jr., founder of the Hospital Corporation of America and chairman and CEO of its more recent incarnation, HCA-The Healthcare Co., is a very rich man, but he has actually become a little less so of late.
He ranks 368th on Forbes magazine's annual list of the 400 richest people in America, with a net worth of $780 million, according to Forbes. Although he has been a member of this elite club since 1992, Frist's rank in this year's Forbes 400 dropped from his 1999 spot at 271, when his net worth was listed as $950 million. So Frist's net worth declined by 18% in the past year.
But HCA is doing fine: Its stock price closed on Sept. 27 at $38.88 per share, a 28% increase over its Jan. 3 closing price of $30.18 per share.
Backing it up. You gotta say this much about M. Lee Pearce, M.D.: He puts his money where his mouth is.
A shareholder of Tenet Healthcare Corp., Pearce is sparing no expense in his all-out (and increasingly vitriolic) crusade to oust four members of the company's board of directors, including Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Barbakow.
In the month before Tenet's Oct. 11 shareholders' meeting, Pearce had taken out two large ads in the Wall Street Journal, one of which takes the company to task for paying its top executives $142.4 million in compensation and perks since 1993, the second of which questions the propriety of Barbakow's personal investment in Broadlane, an Internet-based group purchasing company that began as a joint venture between Tenet and Ventro Corp. last year.
According to the Journal, nationally run half-page ads cost about $70,000 each.
Pearce is "financing this himself because he feels very strongly about the need to bring change to this company," says his spokesman Josh Pekarsky. Pearce isn't speaking with reporters.
In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, however, Pearce indicates he intends to bill Tenet for the estimated $2.5 million he expects his proxy fight to cost.
Tenet spokesman Harry Anderson says Pearce is displaying "a lot of chutzpah" in requesting that Tenet foot the bill. Anderson adds that the offer to buy Broadlane stock was extended to about 800 Tenet executives and upper-level managers at the company's hospitals--a common business incentive.
Pekarsky wouldn't say whether Pearce plans to run more ads. "We want to keep 'em guessing."
Bronze addendum. Last week Outliers featured the four members of the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team who come from Savannah, Ga., and are connected to Memorial Health University Medical Center there.
Well, one of them hit pay dirt: 17-year-old Cheryl Haworth captured the bronze medal in the women's super heavyweight clean and jerk. Haworth lifted 597 pounds. Outliers offers its congratulations--and admiration.