You'd think that if anybody would know how to get along, it would be patient-satisfaction firms.
Press Ganey Associates, a South Bend, Ind.-based company that evaluates patient satisfaction with healthcare services, said earlier this month that it sold a "substantial" stake in the privately held firm to American Securities Capital Partners, a New York-based private-equity investment firm. Terms were not disclosed, but an overview of the firm on its Web site, american-securities.com, says it seeks to make long-range investments of at least $25 million in companies with at least $50 million in revenue and $10 million in operating profit.
Press Ganey's founders, Irwin Press and Rodney Ganey, are retired from professorships at the University of Notre Dame and were looking to cash out some equity in the firm, spokesman Dick Howland says. Michael Hays, the top executive of rival patient-survey firm National Research Corp., says representatives from Press Ganey approached publicly held NRC about a possible merger, but Hays says his company was not interested. Howland denies the company was interested in selling to a publicly traded company.
"(Press and Ganey) have been looking for investors for the last year, but they made a determination this was the best route to go because they want to protect the independence of the company as well as the employees," Howland says. Howland also accuses NRC of "distributing misleading e-mails to (Press Ganey) clients about the transaction." To that, Hays responds that he did not direct anyone at NRC to contact Press Ganey clients about the transaction or its implications for the company.
Leaving the neighborhood
The Community Hospital of Munster's first and only administrator announced he will retire by year-end. Edward Robinson began collecting a paycheck six years before the suburban Chicago hospital just across the state line in Munster, Ind., even opened in 1973. Robinson, who declines to divulge his age, oversaw fund raising for and construction, completion and expansion of the hospital in his 36 years there as the facility almost quadrupled in size from 94 beds to 367 beds and grew from a single facility with 127 employees to a three-hospital system employing 2,500 people.
"Mr. Robinson has helped guide Community Hospital from very humble beginnings into one of the finest healthcare organizations not only here in northwest Indiana but anywhere," says Donald Powers, president and chief executive officer of Community Healthcare System, the business name of the system that also includes St. Catherine Hospital of East Chicago, Ind., and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, Ind. Powers, who is also president of Community Hospital's parent company, the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana, says Robinson will remain with the hospital until Dec. 31 to assist Community Foundation Senior Vice President of Hospital Operations John Gorski, who was named interim administrator. Gorski, who oversees the system, has served Community Hospital since 1982 in a variety of executive positions. The hospital will conduct a national search for a successor.
"It's been a good run," says Robinson, a Pittsburgh native and president of the Hospice of the Calumet Area and a board member of the Northwest Indiana Symphony. "I haven't made any plans yet, except to remain active. I'm in very good health and I thought it was best to step down at the top of my game. I'm retiring from the hospital, but not from life or even healthcare."
Robinson says he's keeping his options open. "If Bush is looking for somebody to replace Tommy Thompson, I'll be available," he says.
Overtime wages in overtime
Pay for healthcare workers is a timely issue, but at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center it has gone into overtime. The Los Angeles hospital has agreed to pay $875,000 in lost overtime wages to some 1,000 employees, or 10% of its staff, after an internal audit discovered hospital officials had altered some timecards.
The California Department of Labor Standards and Enforcement asked the 870-bed medical center to conduct the review after a nurse complained in April. Cedars-Sinai officials say the problem arose because employees had clocked in to work before their shifts began and the hospital had later altered their timecards to deduct unearned pay. But since 1937, the state labor code has prohibited employers from deducting wages to recoup payments, compelling hospitals to file claims for damages in court if they want to contest the payments. The whistleblower, who was allegedly forced out of her nursing job after the disclosure, says she planned to file a lawsuit against the hospital.
Trouble in paradise
The latest salvo in an 18-month-old antitrust lawsuit has taken an unconventional and creative turn. At first glance, the woman dressed as a young doctor wearing a stethoscope and lab coat makes the Web site for "Save the Match" look more like a singles dating service than a defense of a resident physician matching program under legal siege.
But the Web site's sponsor, the National Resident Matching Program, is in for the battle of its life as one of 36 defendants in an antitrust lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington in May 2002. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 200,000 current and former resident physicians by three former residents, charges that the match program, its medical and hospital association sponsors and 29 teaching hospitals stifle competition, restrain trade and illegally conspire to maintain low wages and long working hours for resident physicians. The 51-year-old match program connects medical school graduates with medical residency and fellowship programs at teaching hospitals around the country. The program and its sponsors have denied the allegations and say the program plays no role in the pay or working conditions of residents.
The plaintiffs are seeking class certification, which would enable them to claim greater financial damages from the not-for-profit defendants. The Web site, savethematch.org, offers news stories on the litigation.