A new "VIP pavilion" at Howard University Hospital in Washington has everything a well-heeled diplomat or dignitary might want or need, including marble-accented bathrooms, personal gourmet chefs, fresh flowers and a panoramic view of the city's skyline and its landmark monuments.
Of course, there's also a private room adjoining the expansive "presidential suite" to provide temporary quarters for a patient's security officers or "press detail," says Debra Carey, chief operating officer of the private, not-for-profit 345-bed hospital that opened to treat freed slaves after the Civil War.
"Many hospitals have an upscale unit like ours," she says. "But I think we're setting the new standard, frankly. It's the most modern, up-to-date facility of its kind. It's based on the standards of a five-star hotel. And there's a great view of the skyline-the best in the city, bar none."
The six rooms in the new pavilion, which was unveiled last week, range from about 240 square feet to approximately 440 square feet and include plush sofas and work areas. There are Internet connections, top-of-the-line wood furnishings and a basket filled with fresh fruit. The two largest rooms, including the "presidential suite," feature giant flat-screen televisions. Carey says the extra cost for this special treatment ranges from $200 to $1,000 per day-a price she believes will perfectly suit the diverse, worldly population of the nation's capital.
"We have a huge diplomatic corps here," she notes. "We have had many diplomats and their families use our facility. Howard University historically has had a large and loyal following throughout the country. We think there is a very good market here for VIP services."
With the college football season over, Tennessee is looking not to its No. 6 ranked football team but to its health science students for a second chance at winning the big one.
Just weeks after its upset loss at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville will host its second annual Rice Intercollegiate Bowl on Jan. 27 to promote interdisciplinary thinking among healthcare students. Three teams of eight students from UT Health Science Center colleges such as dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and social work will compete to solve complex healthcare cases that require input from all eight disciplines.
"It's an idea to see how well a team functions as a team," says David Mirvis, director of the Center for Health Services Research at UT. "Working together, they can get a better answer."
Last year, students worked on a scenario that started with a simple broken tooth and turned into a complex patient-care condition that involved spousal abuse. Participants were judged on how knowledgeable they were and how well they worked as a team.
"But in the end, they all got it right," Mirvis says. Everyone was a winner, with prizes and T-shirts for all. He says, "Healthcare is a team sport."
Sister Mary John Tintea, however, still has her head and heart in the game of football.
As the Indianapolis Colts journeyed to suburban Boston last weekend to play for the National Football League's AFC championship, the team brought along the 73-year-old Daughters of Charity nun, a chaplain at St. Vincent Hospitals and Health Services in Indianapolis. Her fervor for her team is making her famous in the state capital.
Sister Mary John became a Colts fan shortly after arriving in Indy 14 years ago. A nun for 53 years, she traces her love of sports to her youth in Detroit, where she played baseball as a girl. "I was a fan of the Tigers, Red Wings and Lions," she says.
Early in her career she began working with schoolboys with behavioral problems and rooted for the teams in the communities where she was assigned.
She says the Colts' performance and reputation as a clean, hard-fighting team really won her over, and her ardent cheering has captured the hearts of the team and the city. She's been featured numerous times in recent years on local TV stations and in the local paper, the Indianapolis Star. Hospital patients and their families recognize her on sight.
"They can tell I'm a Colts fan from the (quarterback) Peyton Manning jersey I wear and the team colors (white and blue, same as her order wears) balloon and team insignia on my scooter (she uses to get around the facility)," she says.
"I see such brightness and happiness on their faces and that's inspired me to go into other rooms with my Colts outfit. They give me high-fives going down the hall and tell me `Go, sister, go. Cheer on those Colts!' It's been kind of infectious this year."
A local charter travel club paid for her to travel to Kansas City, Mo., to see the Colts defeat the Chiefs on Jan. 11 and to Foxboro, Mass., for the conference championship game.
"Even if they'd lost and they weren't as good of a team, I'd be cheering for them," she says. "But they've gone so far and have had such a terrific season. It's brought so many people so much happiness."