Georgia's first hospital plans to make the most of its 200th birthday.
In January, Savannah's Candler Hospital kicked off its yearlong bicentennial celebration by planting a commemorative oak tree while onlookers remembered the hospital's contributions, including a stint in the Civil War and the hiring of its first night-duty nurse.
With 200 years under its belt, the hospital-considered by its administrators to be the second-oldest continuously operating hospital in the country behind Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, founded in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin-has had to undergo some extensive face-lifts. The hospital's several overhauls meant leaving the original structure in the historic Yamacraw neighborhood and two other locations, to inhabit the current 38-acre facility.
"As hospitals and healthcare systems are being closed and sold, changing hands at a fairly alarming rate, Candler has had its same mission, same commitment to the community for over 200 years," says Paul Hinchey, president and chief executive officer of St. Joseph's/Candler Health System. Looking at the then-and-now shots of the hospital, the mission statement seems to be the only original aspect of the hospital. Still, why not take advantage of the milestone? "There's a lot to talk about," Hinchey says. "It's a walking history book on the evolution of healthcare in America."
$250,000 guarantee comes with hefty conditions
It's not exactly the same kind of unconditional, money-back guarantee you get when you buy spot remover advertised on late-night television, but Masimo Corp., an upstart manufacturer of pulse oximeters, is offering a $250,000 guarantee to hospitals.
Here's the deal, according to the company's news release: Masimo will pay $250,000 toward the purchase of new pulse oximetry equipment if, after a side-by-side comparison, a hospital concludes that the technology of a Masimo competitor-Nellcor, a part of Tyco Healthcare Group-is better.
This is not the first such guarantee Masimo has offered potential customers. Masimo officials did not respond to a request for an interview, but Joe Kiani, chairman and chief executive officer of Masimo, states in the release that when the guarantee was first launched at an unspecified time, "These evaluations led to many successful hospital conversions to Masimo." That prompted the idea to "renew our guarantee," he adds.
But there's a catch-there's always a catch-when you read the fine print of the guarantee, says Dan Roth, Nellcor's director of marketing. Hospitals can't participate in the program unless they make a contractual commitment before the evaluation, he says. Also, the evaluation protocol has to be approved by Masimo, and Masimo personnel must have unlimited access to the hospital during the evaluation.
"We think the conditions placed on the hospital really distort the evaluation process," Roth says. "It's almost like Las Vegas: The house wins." Roth adds that the guarantee-the third by his count-hasn't put a dent in Nellcor's business.
Obviously, there is no love lost between the two competitors. Irvine, Calif.-based Masimo has two lawsuits pending against Nellcor for patent infringement and antitrust. And in April 2002, Masimo was the poster child for small medical device manufacturers during a Senate antitrust subcommittee hearing focused on group purchasing organizations and their alleged role in hampering innovation in hospitals. At the time, Masimo charged that the GPOs' cozy and longstanding relationships with Nellcor was keeping the far better product out of hospitals.
Telling it like it was
Edwin Parker is an old-fashioned former doctor in every way. He's an 86-year-old retired OB/GYN who decided about two years ago, pretty much out of the blue, to write a book about his long, fruitful life as a physician. So he headed to his boat-docked right down the walkway from his home in Huntington Beach, Calif.-and began to write. Longhand. His daughter, Judith Ann Parker, a geneticist who also knows her way around a keyboard, transcribed reams of the good doctor's chicken scratches, and the rest is history-a 186-page book, part autobiography, part self-help, part inspiration-titled Life is a Gift: Sixty Years of Medical Practice.
"I wanted to leave something for my children and my grandchildren," Parker said during a recent telephone conversation. "I wanted to let them know what my life was like." Drawing on case histories and anecdotes contained in the boxes of journals Parker accumulated over the years, the doctor provides everything from inspirational stories about patients to personal reflections on alternative medicine. He also chronicles his work at free clinics in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
In one chapter, Parker writes about his first circumcision, when a surly father vowed to cut short the life of the then-fourth-year medical student if he spilled even a drop of his baby boy's blood during the procedure. When a tiny bead of blood fell, the father did too, slamming his forehead on a table after fainting and opening up a 3-inch gash. Parker, who now had two patients, was more than a little relieved when the older one came to-and invited the doctor to join him in a celebratory drink.
Parker isn't sure whether his book will hit the best-seller charts-it ranked somewhere around 1.2 million on the Amazon sales list recently, even though he says he has purchased seven cases, at 34 books per case, to distribute to family, friends and colleagues. He received a big national publicity boost last week when the book was featured on the American Medical Association's popular Web site, ama-assn.org.
And what about some of his favorite parts of the book? "Sex for old people-that always brings a laugh," Parker says, chuckling slightly.