The stars were out last week in New York City, where Michael Eisner, chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Co., was honored by the Jewish Home and Hospital for his family's longtime support of the three-campus health system in the New York area.
The black-tie bash was the largest fund-raising event in the 150-year history of the system, raising more than $1.27 million to support quality-of-life projects and programs at Jewish Home's campuses in Manhattan, Westchester County and the Bronx. Barbara Walters reigned as master of ceremonies while Elton John performed several of his signature songs from Disney's "Aida" and "The Lion King," and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg showed up as well.
Eisner, whose late father served as a board member of Jewish Home for 20 years, endowed the Lester Eisner Jr. Center for Geriatric Education in 1990 to conduct physician-training programs and basic and applied geriatric research. The Eisner Center made Jewish Home the first nursing center in the nation with a residential clinical facility for the aged as well as a center in geriatric education and research on health issues affecting the elderly.
"My father felt education formed the building blocks of the future, not bricks and mortar," Eisner said. "Our family will continue to celebrate the efforts of the Jewish Home and Hospital and to help propel its position in geriatric care, training and research."
Audrey Weiner, Jewish Home's incoming president, told Outliers she hopes the event can be as successful in the future. "The big challenge for us is to balance the economics of care with our high standard for quality of care and quality of life. Charity dollars will help us continue to develop programs and enhancements that government funding won't provide."
Hospital in memoriam
The sale of a hospital doesn't usually cause anguish and heartache. Except, that is, when grieving employees really feel like they're losing a true friend along with a good job.
And that doubly difficult loss caused considerable angst at 119-bed Middle Georgia Hospital, a nearly century-old facility in Macon, Ga., which traded owners on Nov. 1 and soon will close, forcing all 152 employees to relocate to other area facilities or wind up unemployed.
To properly mark the occasion with an appropriate public demonstration of grief, more than 100 of those employees, including some who have spent most of their careers at the hospital, decided to dress in black or wear a black rose to work one recent day, lending a fittingly funereal atmosphere to a potluck farewell lunch at the hospital.
"This hospital has been part of this community since 1911. Many (employees) have been here a long time, and there's a lot of loyalty," says Jan Beeland, a spokeswoman for Coliseum Medical Centers in Macon, owned by HCA, the former owner of Middle Georgia. "And the people who wore black were just showing that loyalty. It's a camaraderie type of thing-their own way to show those feelings."
Middle Georgia was sold by HCA for $12 million to its principal competitor in the market, 609-bed Medical Center of Central Georgia. As part of the bargain, the big medical center agreed to drop its opposition to a certificate-of-need application by 180-bed Coliseum. In turn, Middle Georgia's building will house Medical Center of Central Georgia's children's hospital. Beeland says all but a small handful of the hospital's employees will be offered new positions at Coliseum or HCA's other facility in town, 103-bed Macon Northside Hospital.
All in good fun
It's good to know that employees of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have a sense of humor to balance all that serious and tedious regulation writing and oversight work.
When Administrator Thomas Scully celebrated his 45th birthday last month, some of his staff took the opportunity to have a little fun with their fearless leader: "CMS Administrator Tom Scully today proclaimed himself to be `Administrator for Life' at the CMS," said a mock press release distributed by e-mail to CMS staff on Oct. 24. "I just realized that I have only 20 years to fix Medicare before I become a beneficiary," the e-mail said, pretending to quote Scully.
Describing the CMS as the agency that technically should have another M in its acronym, the phony media statement hinted that Scully had personal ambitions in mind when he eliminated the name Health Care Financing Administration shortly after taking office. "No matter what people in D.C. might say, (the CMS) does not mean `call me Scully,' " said the press release, formatted electronically on the CMS' Public Affairs Office letterhead. The release continued: "Scully said that since he is good friends with every member of Congress and healthcare lobbyist in Washington, he expected to see substantial Medicare reform before he retires, so he will spend the next 20 years visiting every member and every district in the U.S."
"Definitely in the seven figures-but less than some pharmaceutical companies spend on dinners."
-William Jessee, M.D., president of the Englewood, Colo.-based Medical Group Management Association, in response to a question during the organization's annual conference last week about how much has been spent on Physcape, a for-profit MGMA subsidiary that is creating a financial benchmarking database for medical groups. Jessee, who announced that Physcape is now aligned with PricewaterhouseCoopers in a partnership, declined to provide a specific dollar figure for the investment.