Forget nasty referral battles: Doctors at Philadelphia's flagging Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital were reportedly apoplectic last week over the unceremonious removal of some 47 paintings, primarily portraits, by the Drexel University College of Medicine.
Hospital employees reportedly created a human chain around the paintings when professional fine-art movers arrived to take them away. The paintings include portraits of the medical school's founding mothers, former deans, notable physicians and even Grace Kelly's mother, Margaret, who made a substantial donation to the medical school in 1946. Most are more of sentimental value, unlikely to create a stir at a Sotheby's auction, an official says.
The stage for the high drama was set earlier that same week when Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell unveiled a plan that tapped physicians at the hospital to run it as a not-for-profit corporation in association with Temple University Health System. The hospital is owned by the beleaguered Tenet Healthcare Corp., which had targeted it to close in March. Last-minute negotiations earlier this year guaranteed it would stay open at least until June 30.
Drexel officials, who had submitted a competing proposal to continue operations at the site, say the artwork belongs to the medical school, not the hospital, even though the paintings have resided at the hospital since the 1930s. The hospital was inextricably entwined with the college until it was sold to the Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation in 1988. Tenet took possession of the hospital after the foundation's notorious bankruptcy in 1998. Drexel managed the medical school after the bankruptcy and finally merged with it in 2002.
Linda Roth, a Drexel spokeswoman, says the school had no choice but to protect the medical school's precious assets because of the uncertainty that was injected into the situation by the governor's announcement to turn over management to someone other than the medical school. "It's our obligation to the people who bequest (the artwork) to keep them all together," she says.
The paintings were moved to the school's academic headquarters at the nearby Queen Lane campus, and they will eventually be hung there unless Drexel is allowed to remain at the medical college hospital, in which case the paintings will be returned to the hospital, she adds.
Amy Kelchner, a spokeswoman for the governor's office for healthcare reform, says ownership of the paintings is still unclear.
New York University School of Medicine provided a real service to the little kid in everyone earlier this month when it gave remote viewers the ability to watch the delivery of a car-sized magnet.
Manhattan's most powerful magnet, a 30-ton super-conducting MRI, was uncrated and moved by crane into the medical school's Center for Biomedical Imaging in plain view of a webcam set up to indulge the most discriminating curiosity seekers. The magnet forms the center of a 7-tesla magnetic imaging system developed by Siemens Medical Solutions. It holds 200 miles of super-conducting wire and is 140,000 times stronger than the earth's magnetic field.
The webcast began at 10: 30 on a Friday morning and signed off at 2 p.m. Too large for an airplane, the doughnut-shaped magnet steamed across the pond from England by ship, docking in Kearny, N.J.
The MRI containing the magnet will allow researchers from a number of prominent research institutions to obtain detailed snapshots of metabolic pathways in the brain. The research will help gain a better understanding of how disease affects the brain's metabolism, with hope that it would lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment for a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis.
A magnet that size could have clipped every car key in Manhattan, but fortunately, it required hydrogen to activate it, NYU spokeswoman Pam McDonnell says.
When to smoke
A new study has found that smoking cigarettes actually helps arteries stay open following angioplasty to repair clogged blood vessels in the legs. Habitual to heavy smokers who failed to kick the health-threatening habit after the procedure had a lower rate of restenosis -re-clogging of the arteries-than did nonsmokers.
Researchers at the University of Vienna in Austria surmised that the paradoxical study results had something to do with increasing the level of carbon monoxide in the blood stream. The gas is "a potent anti-inflammatory agent known to dilate blood vessels," says Martin Schillinger, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Vienna Medical School. "Carbon monoxide can inhibit the growth of smooth muscle cells within the artery wall, which is a key factor in the restenosis process."
Interventional radiologists typically treat so-called peripheral artery disease with angioplasty, a procedure in which a balloon-tipped catheter is threaded to the site of the blockage and inflated. The radiologist frequently places a stent-a wire-mesh cylinder-inside the artery to keep it propped open. Up to 60% of the patients who undergo such procedures develop restenosis and must have treatment repeated within a year, Schillinger says. The study, published in the June issue of Radiology, involved 650 patients. Among the heavy smokers, the re-narrowing following the procedure was 16% at six months and 29% at 12 months. Nonsmoking patients, on the other hand, experienced restenosis rates of 28% and 45%, respectively.
But before the major tobacco companies start asking for refunds of the 1998 tobacco settlement money they forked over, it should be noted that smoking frequently got the patients into their predicament in the first place. The smokers in the patient group were younger than those in the nonsmoking group and also had higher rates of heart attacks and strokes, according to the study.