Wearing your religion on your sleeve has taken on a whole new meaning for Lauren Powell and Barbara Payne, who have created a line of Bible-themed clothing for healthcare workers.
The two sisters-in-law have started a company called Scripture Scrubs to market their products. Powell, a commercial artist from Round Rock, Texas, says the idea came from Payne, a registered home health nurse in Valliant, Okla. Payne was looking into her closet one day and "felt like the Lord was prompting her to put his name on medical uniforms," Powell says. "She started hand-writing scripture on plain white scrubs and wearing them to work. People she worked with asked where they could find them and she began making them herself. They were bought as fast as she could make them. She knew I was an artist and asked me to make some designs and here we are one year later."
The business' Web site, scripturescrubs.com, pitches its first two products: The Hope in the Lord scrubs smock "features classic dove and rainbow motif" in bright colors on a blue-washed background, while Reaping and Sowing represents a garden theme with a soft yellow background, the site says.
"This is a way that medical professionals can wear and share their faith and offer hope and encouragement to patients and co-workers without saying a word," Powell says.
She's not worried that some patients or employers might object to the religious apparel. "As long as there's not a dress code, nurses and other staff can usually wear what they want," she says, noting that nurses often wear ghosts and goblins scrubs around Halloween.
No Enzi time for teaching hospitals
Faced with a continuing struggle over funding, the nation's medical educators probably did not celebrate the news last month that Sen. Michael Enzi, the two-term Republican from Wyoming, will become chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in January.
After all, Wyoming is one of just six states without a medical school, an absence that probably does not make the senator's heart grow fonder.
But Richard Knapp, executive vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, has high hopes for Enzi, who is stepping in as chairman of the committee for Judd Gregg, the New Hampshire Republican who relinquished that post in favor of the No. 1 job on the powerful Senate Budget Committee in the 109th Congress. Knapp's optimism isn't based entirely on his belief that Enzi, whose focus has been on rural health, might be more sympathetic to the needs of medical schools and teaching hospitals. It turns out that Enzi's top health-policy adviser, Steve Northrup, worked for Knapp at the AAMC for about five years, focusing on appropriations.
"So, at least I'll get my phone calls returned," Knapp says.
Experienced in ethics
If Anthony Spezia runs a squeaky clean healthcare outfit now, he says it's partly thanks to his experiences at companies where the line between right and wrong was, shall we say, thinner.
Among other jobs, he used to work in the coal business where, like in healthcare, he says, "Safety is life and death." He left that job before he could stop the falsification of methane samples that resulted in explosions that killed miners. But as president and chief executive officer of Covenant Health in Knoxville, Tenn., Spezia has made a pre-emptive strike on ethical deviance. "It's not about finding mistakes and fixing them," Spezia says. "It's about creating an environment where you don't make mistakes."
For that aggressive stance, last month he was the first CEO to be named as a fellow of the Health Ethics Trust, part of the Council of Ethical Organizations.
Council President Mark Pastin says Spezia carries out an ethical approach that others merely talk about. Everyone Pastin talked to at Covenant praised Spezia's commitment to business ethics and compliance.
Spezia says any Covenant employee can dial the system's hot line to voice concerns, report fraud or just ask questions about complex healthcare privacy laws. All 16,000 phones have stickers with the number to call.
He says strong business ethics isn't just the right thing to do. It also makes good business sense, because it cultivates trust and leads to stronger relationships with vendors, payers, patients and employees.
"Throughout my career, I've seen opportunities where good business ethics have resulted in positive outcomes and bad business ethics have been ruinous and ultimately ended in (a firm's) demise," Spezia says.
The high court?
Last week's Supreme Court hearing on medical marijuana spurred an unusual campaign to promote state laws permitting cannabis as a therapy. "Joints for Justice" seeks to capitalize on the publicity over the case, which involves California's statute. An online effort by ShakeItUpBaby.com points out that the court is mulling the issue at the same time that Chief Justice William Rehnquist is undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer.
"Finally, someone with a real need for this therapy will actually have a vote on its future. Justice Rehnquist's illness presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If his own condition is helped by medical marijuana, he might influence others on the court to follow his lead and lift the federal ban."
The campaign urges acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Lester Crawford, whose agency is the only federally authorized marijuana dispenser, to send Rehnquist a joint for his therapy.
Outliers couldn't imagine how to ask Crawford or Rehnquist for comment, so we'll leave it at that.