As if a campaign for governor of North Dakota wasn't enough, state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp has an even tougher fight on her hands: breast cancer.
Democrat Heitkamp, who turns 45 this week, was diagnosed Sept. 15 and underwent a modified radical mastectomy on Sept. 25. Heitkamp began chemotherapy treatments on Oct. 20 but is still keeping up a hectic schedule, including a bus tour of the state, campaign manager Denise Lawson says. Heitkamp's doctors expect her to recover fully.
After going public with her illness Sept. 20, Heitkamp received thousands of letters, calls and bouquets of flowers. She also drew the attention of the national media, including the New York Times, but Heitkamp doesn't want to dwell on her illness, Lawson says. "There's a lot of people out there every day, fighting what she's fighting, going to work. Right now, this campaign is very much focused not on her cancer, but on the issues."
Heitkamp is married to Darwin Lange, M.D., and they have two children, 14-year-old Ali and 10-year-old Nathan. Outliers wishes Heitkamp well in her most important battle.
Rockin' reimbursement. In the Internet age, radio stations that once reached people only in a given city are now available worldwide. New Yorkers can listen to Brazilian talk radio or Denverites to European rock.
Outliers has learned that one of the latest Web-based radio stations to make its debut will tantalize not with tales and tunes from other nations but with round-the-clock coverage of medical coding and reimbursement. That's right--all-day, all-night reimbursement radio, courtesy of the Naples, Fla.-based Coding Institute.
Now when you get an itch at 3 a.m. to hear the latest on billing for endoscopy, you can just tune in by setting your Web dial to www.codinginstitute.com.
The institute announced last month that it will broadcast the latest clinical and administrative updates affecting coding and reimbursement for more than 30 medical specialties.
Despite several attempts to learn more about the institute's new radio station, the company did not return Outliers' calls.
Which is too bad, because all publicity is good publicity--especially when you're in reimbursement radio.
Lions and tigers and HMOs, oh my. Nashville businessman Herbert Fritch owns some 500 elk and 300 buffalo, has collected giraffes and boasts of a pet spider monkey named Elmo.
Now he hopes to enter the less exotic, but perhaps more profitable HMO business.
Fritch is the CEO of Health Net Management, the HMO founded and operated by Nashville's Baptist Hospital (Sept. 25, p. 3). He recently struck a deal with the hospital to buy part of its interest in the managed-care business.
Fritch began collecting animals on his property in Brentwood, Tenn., when he sold his independent practice association management company, North American Medical Management, to Nashville-based PhyCor in 1995.
Fritch concedes the exotic animal business has not been a winner from a money-making standpoint.
"They ate more than I thought," he says. He has advice for investors: "I wouldn't invest in one of my animal ventures, but I'd invest in my healthcare ventures."
A good day. What a difference a day makes: In this case, a cool $100,000.
On Oct. 19, officials at Littleton (N.H.) Hospital were "shocked" when they were not able to auction off their 94-year-old facility, even after bidders failed to bite and the building technically could have been purchased for a measly $1.
The very next day, however, Littleton officials sold their 113,000-square-foot hospital for $100,000.
"We were shocked" when no one bought the building, says Littleton Hospital spokeswoman Julie Ostopchuk. "We had every reason to believe that that (auction) day the building would be sold."
The original bid price started at $500,000 and dropped to $25,000. Before the bidding was closed, according to the rules of an absolute auction, someone could have bid $1 for the building. A known obstacle was a $114,000 sewer impact fee due immediately upon any sale.
The day after the auction, Littleton officials and real estate agents got down to brass tacks and sold the property to Brady Sullivan Properties of Manchester, N.H., for one-fifth the original bid price, which is still a lot more than a buck. New owner Shane Brady hasn't decided what to do with the building yet.
Littleton was anxious to unload its old hospital because it plans to move in to a new $25.7 million facility in December.
"We're definitely relieved," Ostopchuk says.
A bummer week. Even 30-year-old multimillionaires can have really bad weeks.
Seven days after resigning as co-CEO of WebMD, 30-year-old Jeffrey Arnold's $3.9 million mansion in Atlanta went up in flames. The fire, which gutted the 63-year-old house and severely damaged Arnold's 4.6-acre estate, also torched a piece of Atlanta history: Arnold's home is located on the same street in the exclusive Buckhead area that author Tom Wolfe used for the home of the protagonist in his 1998 book, A Man in Full.
As of last week, the Atlanta Fire Department was unsure what caused the Oct. 18 blaze and didn't know whether the home's 45 fire alarms were working when it ignited, says Jolene Butts Freeman, a spokeswoman for the fire department.
Arnold was the mastermind behind a series of multibillion-dollar deals intended to make WebMD the leader of Internet-based healthcare content and services. But the company has been hemorrhaging cash, losing almost $1 billion in the first six months of this year alone. Arnold resigned Oct. 12 as the company faced the daunting task of fashioning a plan to reach profitability. WebMD announced last month that it would lay off 1,100 people by the end of 2001 to contain costs.
"We'll just have to rebuild (the house)," Arnold told the Atlanta Constitution the day after the fire. According to the newspaper, Arnold and his wife had already spent $1.9 million renovating the mansion. They were not living there at the time.