HealthSouth's dark day
Shame on you, Richard Scrushy ("Firm's health going south," March 24, p. 4), and shame on us for believing your rhetoric about "the healthcare company of the 21st century" and "we are first and foremost a patient-oriented organization."
As CEO of a HealthSouth Corp. facility, I've never been so ashamed to have to show my face to my employees. But neither I nor my staff has the ability to simply walk away from this fiasco, despite what our consciences might dictate.
Many of us not only believed Scrushy's doublespeak, we invested our own money in this company. We are now finding that we also invested in Scrushy's outlandish lifestyle.
Scrushy received a base salary with a guaranteed minimum of $1.2 million per year, an annual "target" bonus of a minimum of $2.4 million, any other bonus programs that we "little people" might be eligible for; corporate provided long-term disability insurance equal to 100% of total compensation, coverage the little people have to pay for on our own; six weeks' paid vacation per year; a new paid car each year of his choosing plus driver; payment of fees to two country clubs; use of company aircraft for both business and personal use; round-the-clock bodyguards; and on and on.
Scrushy, in turn, made all the rules. He created his own board and paid directors enough so they didn't look too closely at what he was doing. He loaded the company with his own family members and a few allies, entrusting the books to them.
Mostly, he used a sympathy strategy by giving some of the allegedly ill-gotten gains to the community so as not to appear to be an uncharitable villain if he ever got sentenced.
Despite the pounding this company will take from the press and the public, apart from a few "family members" who appear to have other aspirations in life, most HealthSouth employees are still deeply vested in providing excellent care to our patients. Not only have they been robbed of their stock value, my employees now fear that they could lose their patients and their jobs.
I ask our clients not to take their anger at this unchecked greed out on employees. And shareholders should take action against those who perpetrated this fraud but not at the expense of patients or staff.
Name withheld upon request
Another view of Sonenreich
I was disappointed to see Modern Healthcare publish a letter from William Bzdek, an obviously disgruntled employee of Mount Sinai Medical Center, that was fraught with untruths ("No love lost", March 10, p. 24). It is unfortunate that you allow your op-ed section to be used for personal attacks and to besmirch someone's reputation without checking any of the facts.
I was chairman of the board of Mount Sinai, Miami Beach, Fla., in 1997 when-after 20 years of dedicated service-Steven Sonenreich gave appropriate notice of his resignation. This action was not prompted by our administration or the board. Further, Steve did not apply for a position in 1998; in fact, the Mount Sinai board approached him for the top job in 2001. His performance in this position has been exemplary.
Also, I would like to point out that I am alive and well, not dead, as the letter implies.
Former chairman of the board
Mount Sinai Medical Center
Miami Beach, Fla.
A way to help uninsured
Your Feb. 24 cover story "Pitching plans to the uninsured" (p. 8) reported that the health insurance industry is finally acting on what it has known for some time-that the uninsured are a vast untapped market. It's time for providers to wake up to this fact as well. A recent study confirmed that 18 million of the 41 million uninsured have moderate to high incomes. The uninsured want the same kind of accessible, efficient, high-quality healthcare that those with insurance expect.
VHA and the VHA Health Foundation have developed a primary-care model for the uninsured with reasonable visit fees and a financially break-even proposition for the provider. Designed as a consumer-focused, efficient office environment with up-to-date medical information, this could be one answer for markets with high uninsured populations. Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston is opening such a center in June.
VHA Health Foundation