Dancers in flowing white costumes, bending as gracefully as flowers in the wind. A string octet playing standards and classical pieces. A "Rite of Spring?" Well, sort of.
That was the scene during an unusual groundbreaking for a new facility at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, which is no stranger to such ceremonies. Four years after opening in grand style its new, $600 million Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the system broke ground last week on its new Prentice Women's Hospital and Maternity Center, a replacement for a 28-year-old facility. The $502.5 million, 256 licensed-bed hospital is slated for a 2007 opening.
The several hundred donors, hospital staff and local dignitaries attending the groundbreaking were escorted into a huge white tent, where-under lights and on a raised platform-dancers from the River North Dance Company swayed, pirouetted and leaped in a "ballet on dirt" representing the stages in women's lives and "reflecting the expansion of programs and services that will be offered at the hospital." Outliers isn't so sure all of the attendees could interpret from the graceful movements of the young women that the new Prentice will offer cardiology, oncology, infertility treatments, geriatrics and office space for 100 physicians.
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Mecklenburg opened the nondance portion of the groundbreaking by lauding mothers and other women. "This is a celebration of women and women's health. When women are healthy, the larger community benefits," he said.
What color is his parachute?
When Curt Nonomaque succeeded the iconic Tom Smith as president and CEO of VHA on May 1, he inaugurated his new reign with an apparently iconoclastic deed. He e-mailed a color-coded personality analysis of himself to all 1,400 employees at the hospital alliance and its group purchasing arm, Novation.
As strange as that may seem, it barely raised an eyebrow, considering all 1,400 employees, including 400 workers at Novation, have similar analyses sitting in plain view in their offices, per company policy.
VHA has been working with Houston-based Personalysis Corp., which developed the analysis, since 1985, and since about 1998 all employees from the highest levels to the ground floor have taken the questionnaire after being hired and are told to keep their Personalysis within plain view in their offices. The Personalysis has never been used to hire or fire anyone at VHA, says Susan Gressett, VHA's director of organizational effectiveness.
Most people have at least some of all four colors in their personality profile, but in a word, red-dominated people are action-oriented, yellows are socially oriented, blues are contemplative and greens are detail- oriented. VHA considers how everyone's colors blend when it is building teams, Gressett says.
All this begs the question: What color is Nonomaque's colorgraph? Heavy with red and yellow, the analysis shows he enjoys "action-oriented and problem-solving roles" and takes pleasure in "production and service-type activities." He is "direct and resourceful" in approach and a "focused, decisive and enterprising" manager.
Wired at the bedside
With technology on its side, small stand-alone hospitals can vie for better patient satisfaction alongside the biggest investor-owned giants.
This summer, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Newport Beach, Calif., plans to install a system designed to "improve administrative functions as well as bring entertainment to (the patient's) bedside." Patients at the 352-bed facility can have access to high-speed Internet, e-mail, premium cable, on-demand movies, music and computer games.
San Diego-based Skylight Systems, which makes the GetWellTV system, currently has five hospital contracts, including those with two Tenet Healthcare Corp. facilities, and is negotiating eight to 10 more. Patients are billed $4.95 per day for the service, and there are no costs to hospitals for the entertainment product.
Hoag officials, in the midst of building a 300,000 square-foot women's pavilion, were looking for ways to enhance services to make up for the nuisance of construction. "The noise and inconvenience is on every part of the campus, so it touches every part of the hospital," says Debra Legan, vice president of marketing and corporate communications at Hoag.
Calling Dr. Kennedy
Bill Frist, the Tennessee Republican and Senate majority leader, still holds a key distinction as the only medical doctor serving in the U.S. Senate. Now, his colleague across the aisle, Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy, can claim at least a tenuous, sartorial tie to this noble profession-a white, knee-length lab coat, complete with his famous name stitched above the left breast pocket.
In a ritual normally reserved for first-year medical students, the Washington-based Association of American Medical Colleges presented one of the distinctive white lab coats to Kennedy earlier this month. Kennedy, who donned his new coat during a Capitol Hill ceremony, was cited for his "tireless support" of academic medicine and his involvement in "nearly every major piece of healthcare legislation brought before the Senate in the last 40 years," AAMC officials declared.