Is there a doctor in the house? At Tru, one of Chicago's four-star restaurants, there usually is.
Taking advantage of the deep pockets and physical proximity of potential medical patrons, Tru has targeted its marketing efforts to doctors and pharmaceutical professionals.
In addition to being across the street from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Tru is ideally suited to the needs of medical professionals, who make up 70% to 80% of its private dining room bookings, according to a recent marketing pitch by the restaurant.
"(Tru) offers a calm, serene environment where doctors, after a full day of rounds, can unwind amid tranquil surroundings and enjoy a cultured meal," the restaurant's marketers boast.
"It's a way for the doctors to be able to go to a restaurant that they enjoy frequenting, as opposed to going to something that is a bit more casual," says Julie Drengberg, Tru's private dining coordinator.
And in case they miss the action of the operating room, patrons can book a private dining room in Tru's kitchen and watch the chef perform culinary operations.
"I think the pharmaceutical people go there because they think that if they go there, the doctors will follow, and they want to woo the doctors," says Cindy Kurman, president of Kurman Communications, which conceived the pitch. "And they spend a lot of money."
Too much pork? HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson may have been called a number of things during his years in public office, but the latest moniker from a taxpayer group may be new. Thompson is July's "Porker of the Month," according to Citizens Against Government Waste. The distinction comes for Thompson's renaming HCFA the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which the agency abbreviates as CMS.
Thompson announced the name change last month, after previously saying the name HCFA had "such a bad feeling about it. The best thing we could do is change the name and start off fresh."
The taxpayer group, which gives the award each month to pols it believes have wasted taxpayer money, disagreed. It called the name change a waste of "valuable time, political capital and public money on an effort reminiscent of the old Soviet approach to government reform."
A Thompson spokesman dismissed the criticism as a "goofy effort based on half-truths and outright falsehoods." The HCFA name change was announced last month along with a $35 million public information campaign aimed at helping seniors and others navigate Medicare and Medicaid's complex rules. Thompson's office estimated the switch would cost about $50,000 for items such as new building signs. CMS materials won't even be printed until existing HCFA materials are used up, the spokesman said.
So much for patient protection. A few of the 40 or so children who served as a backdrop for President Bush while he talked about patients' rights legislation, among other topics, on July 9 were on the verge of becoming patients themselves. Reporters at the Rose Garden ceremony counted six of the standing youngsters who either left the risers on their own or had to be helped off by officials while Bush addressed a small audience under the bright glare of the midmorning sun. All of the youngsters appeared to be overcome by the 80-degree heat. No child needed medical attention, White House staff said, just water and a seat in the shade.
There but for fortune. Medical publishers have agreed to slash the prices of their scientific journals for hospitals and universities in developing nations so that those facilities can afford them.
The World Health Organization and international financier George Soros' New York-based Open Society Institute led the effort to make the journals available, according to the Bloomberg news service. About 1,000 journals, including The Lancet, will be available through the Internet at little or no cost to institutions in the 100 poorest nations. The six biggest publishers of scientific journals will participate, WHO officials said. Medical journals are expensive. A subscription to the journal Brain Research, for example, costs about $17,000 per year.
The initiative's sponsors believe access to medical literature will improve medical care and spark research. They also hope it will make researchers less likely to take jobs in more developed nations.