With Republican superlobbyist Deborah Steelman leaving her influential lobbying practice, Steelman Health Strategies, to join pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. as a top executive (Outliers, March 19, p. 68), many wondered what would happen to her firm. Not to worry.
The firm has reconstituted as Capitol Health Group, which will be owned by its four employees. Michael Bromberg, counsel at Steelman and before that executive director of the Federation of American Hospitals, will be Capitol Health Group's board chairman. Shawn Coughlin, formerly senior vice president of Steelman's firm, will be chief operating officer.
Bromberg says the group will be retaining 12 of Steelman's 13 clients and will be adding two: Abbott Laboratories and the Greater New York Hospital Association.
Hospitals vie for artificial heart. A handful of heart hospitals with the right stuff are in training for perhaps the biggest advance in heart transplantation since 1982, when William DeVries, M.D., implanted the Jarvik-7 artificial heart into patient Barney Clark.
The breakthrough centers on a fully implantable artificial heart in development by Abiomed, Danvers, Mass. The Food and Drug Administration gave the company the green light to begin clinical trials on up to five human patients. Officials say they will almost certainly launch the AbioCor Implantable Replacement Heart before the end of June.
The unit, which can be totally implanted in the same spot where the heart resides, is nothing like the cumbersome, refrigerator-sized console that distinguished the Jarvik-7. The AbioCor is not a "forgettable device" like a pacemaker, but only the most keen observers would know a patient was using the artificial heart, says Edward Berger, vice president of government and external relations at Abiomed.
Five clinical centers-a total of six hospitals-have been rigorously preparing themselves to be the first to implant the artificial heart, Berger says. It's anyone's guess as to which hospital will get the nod. Unlike the famed Mercury astronaut program, the decision will not be based strictly on merit or ambition.
While Berger says he doesn't yet know which of the centers will perform the first implant, he did say the decision "will be determined on the basis of readiness, comfort of the clinical teams and ease of finding suitable patients."
The five participating sites are Brigham and Women's Hospital teamed with Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Hahnemann University Hospital, Philadelphia; Jewish Hospital, Louisville, Ky.; Texas Heart Institute, Houston; and UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles.
Although the first hospital to implant the device will surely earn at least 15 minutes of fame, being first is not what this is about, says Rob Dowling, M.D., a co-leader of the AbioCor team at Jewish in Louisville. "We just want whatever center finds the most appropriate patient to set it in and have it go well," Dowling says.
Returning the favor. It's fairly common for nursing home residents to be visited by junior high and high school students. Much rarer is a return visit by the seniors to a school, but a dozen residents of 273-bed Bethany Terrace Nursing Centre in Morton Grove, Ill., did just that on March 28, visiting Joseph Academy in nearby Niles, Ill.
The trip to Joseph Academy was even more out of the ordinary because the academy serves children with behavioral disorders, about 70 students in grades six through 12, and the residents are Alzheimer's patients. Through the weekly visits the students have made to Bethany Terrace, however, the students and the seniors have bonded. The students often provide manicures and help prepare meals, and the newfound friends talk and play board games together.
"Our residents just love seeing these young people," says Ken Kolich, Bethany Terrace's administrator, "and you can see the kids are taken with the seniors, too."
"Nobody ever went to medical school because they couldn't get into business school."
-Stuart Seides, M.D., cardiologist and president of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia, bemoaning the trend among many disgruntled physicians to leave clinical practice for comparatively stress-free careers in management. His comment earned loud applause during a recent American Medical Association meeting in the nation's capital.