CHI names new CEO
Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, named Kevin Lofton as its new president and CEO effective Aug. 1. Lofton, currently executive vice president and COO at the 68-hospital system, succeeds Patricia Cahill, 65, who retires July 31. The CHI board cited Lofton's leadership skills and the respect he receives from colleagues as key factors in its decision. "Kevin's depth of knowledge and understanding of healthcare, his outstanding leadership and his commitment to the healthcare ministry are exemplary," board Chairwoman Maryanna Coyle said. Lofton, 48, joined CHI in 1998 as president of the former southeast region. He was promoted to COO in 1999 and appointed executive vice president in 2000. He previously was executive director and CEO of the University of Alabama Hospital, Birmingham.
JCAHO protocol up for comment
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations issued for public comment a proposed universal protocol for marking surgery sites and verifying the intent of surgical procedures before patients have operations. The aim is to reduce the likelihood of wrong-site, wrong-procedure and wrong-patient surgery with a standardized approach applicable to all operative and invasive procedures. The JCAHO already requires accredited organizations to take consistent measures to prevent such errors, but "standard" approaches can differ among providers, confusing surgeons and other operating room professionals who work at several organizations, said JCAHO spokeswoman Charlene Hill. The JCAHO board will review and consider additional comments submitted by July 9 before it takes action to approve the protocol. The JCAHO said it also would seek broad endorsement and support from medical and healthcare associations nationwide.
House passes association bill
The House passed a controversial bill that would allow small businesses to band together into so-called association health plans. The legislation, endorsed by President Bush, now goes to the Senate. Supporters, led by the National Federation of Independent Business, argue that association health plans would enable small businesses to bargain as a group for better insurance rates or cut administration costs by self-insuring. Opponents, including the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and the Health Insurance Association of America, say the plans will create a two-tiered insurance market by skimming off the healthiest groups and leaving the sickest and costliest workers behind, thus driving up rates in the traditional small employer insurance market. Association health plans are exempt from most state benefit mandates and rating restrictions to which traditional insurers must adhere.