Chad Everett's cheesy hit 1970s-era television series notwithstanding, "medical center" is not a term likely to evoke positive perceptions in most consumers-at least when it's compared with your basic, run-of-the-mill, everyday "hospital," a new survey suggests.
Indeed, while the naming distinction means little or nothing to most healthcare professionals, hospitals get far better reviews than medical centers from prospective patients, who believe the former provide a wider range of services, better-quality care and more up-to-date technologies and procedures.
"The conventional wisdom for years has been that the word `hospital' was tired and old-fashioned," says Steve Rivkin, founder of Rivkin & Associates, a Glen Rock, N.J.-based marketing and communications consulting firm that conducted the survey. "As a result, hundreds of hospitals have dropped the word and renamed themselves `medical centers.' As is often the case, the conventional wisdom was wrong."
In the survey of 1,019 adults in February, about 56% of respondents said they think hospitals have a wider ranger of services than medical centers. Only about 35% said they thought medical centers provided more services than hospitals. About 46% said they believe hospitals provide better-quality care, as opposed to 39% who felt medical centers did; and 50% said they thought hospitals used the most cutting-edge equipment, technologies and procedures, as opposed to 40% who felt that medical centers were superior.
Rivkin said many hospitals decided to christen themselves medical centers when they expanded services beyond a single building, adding out-patient clinics, home health operations and partnerships with physicians. A perception among some professionals that the term "medical center" added a sense of prestige also played a role in many of these name changes.
"Regardless of those internal considerations," Rivkin cautions, "it's always worth listening to the voices of the consumer. The bottom line for a `hospital' thinking about becoming a `medical center' is: Look before you leap."
The Empire State Association of Adult Homes and Assisted Living Facilities recently got its 15 minutes of fame-or notoriety.
Because of a typo in one of its semiannual lobbying reports, the trade group, which represents more than 250 facilities in New York, achieved a seventh-place ranking on the top 10 list of organizations that spent the most on lobbying in 2001. The annual list is compiled by the New York Temporary State Commission on Lobbying and is based on reports from the organizations. The trade group's impressive standing bumped the state Trial Lawyers Association from the state's official list of lobbying heavy-hitters.
If the report was to be believed, Empire State spent a whopping $706,913 on lobbyists in Albany. In truth, the association spent a mere $125,666, putting it who-knows-where on a list of some 2,000 organizations, says David Grandeau, executive director of the commission.
It just took a couple of hours after the report was published on March 20 for Empire State to catch its error. An amended disclosure statement has since been filed.
The trade group's exit from the list moved everyone below them up a notch and made way for the state Trial Lawyers Association, which reportedly spent $590,719 on lobbying, Grandeau says.
Into thin healthcare
You can take the man out of healthcare, but you can't take healthcare out of the man-even on a grueling trek in Nepal. Last fall, Douglas Peters announced plans to resign as president and CEO of 14-hospital Jefferson Health System, Radnor, Pa., and to head out for the base camp of Mount Everest, although not necessarily in that order.
Peters-who officially exited Jefferson April 1-ascended the Tibetan plateau last October, but even in what is arguably one of the remotest regions of the world, Peters found a hospital to tour. He made the 17-day trek with a group of nine men, although only seven, including Peters, made it all the way to base camp at 18,000 feet altitude.
Seeing the world's highest mountain has been a lifetime dream for Peters, an avid climber. The trip last fall began on a commercial jet flying halfway around the world to the Nepalese capital of Katmandu. The second leg of the journey was on a small private plane to a glacial village called Lukla. From Lukla, the nine trekkers and 24 sherpas set off for the nine-day climb through the Himalayas to base camp. Everybody suffered altitude sickness of one kind or another, Peters says. For him, it meant complete revulsion with the sight, smell or taste of food, which made it difficult to stay adequately fueled for the grueling climb.
Peters says the sherpas calculated that with all of the up-and-down traversing through the mountains, the trekkers climbed the equivalent of 40,000 vertical feet. The entire hike was 80 miles round trip. He celebrated his 58th birthday in Nepal with a cake baked by the sherpas-Peters says he doesn't know how they managed it.
The trek took the group past a remote hospital built by Sir Edmund Hillary, the leader of the first team to climb Everest in 1953. Peters says he cannot recall the name of the village where it was located, but the 11-bed facility was one floor, and looked like a Motel 6. It is staffed with one doctor, no nurses and operates on a $100,000 yearly budget. Families care for patients, and "all the drugs are donated by people like us," Peters says. The clinic was equipped with one X-ray machine. "It was pretty sparse," he says, but not that sparse-he found the ward equipped with stretcher beds stamped with the ubiquitous Hill-Rom name so familiar to Americans.