Two Web sites--HospitalVictims.com and WheretheMoneyGoes.com--have been stirring things up recently on the uninsured billing issue, but less well-known is that they are backed by a foundation headed by Patrick Rooney, chairman of Medical Savings Insurance, Indianapolis, according to public records. That's the same Patrick Rooney who has been linked to K.B. Forbes, executive director of Consejo de Latinos Unidos, the organizer who as much as anyone got the ball rolling on the billing question. Forbes declines to discuss any link between his group and the Web sites.
Rooney and Forbes have downplayed their connection in the past, but the evidence of their ties is growing. Forbes confirmed that he was personally paid a stipend by the Freedom Foundation, about $4,000 a month until early this year. (The Freedom Foundation's 2003 Form 990 indicates Forbes was paid $52,000 in that year, and Forbes says that number may include a month's stipend from another year.) Forbes previously worked for Medical Savings from 1997 to 1999, and the two remain friends, he says. Rooney didn't return two phone calls for comment.
But Forbes, who says he's paid nothing by Consejo de Latinos Unidos, declines to discuss who funds the organization and says he continues to be paid stipends by other not-for-profit organizations other than the Freedom Foundation. "I get supported by outside sources to keep me focused on what I do," Forbes says.
And Forbes says nobody complains about the organization's alliance with attorney Archie Lamb, a relationship openly disclosed. Lamb has filed and won settlements in lawsuits around the country alleging that hospitals overcharge the uninsured.
Forbes also denies that his group is a front for the insurance industry, saying those allegations are an effort to deflect discussion from the issues. "My livelihood is seeing results that help the uninsured," he says.
What do Brooklyn Lutherans know about mosques? Probably a lot more now that Lutheran Medical Center in New York has dedicated a new place of worship for Muslim patients, families, visitors and staff.
"As brothers and sisters in all faiths, we do God's work in many different ways throughout Lutheran Medical Center," says Wendy Goldstein, the Brooklyn hospital's president and chief executive officer. "Our new mosque puts Lutheran Medical Center one step further in realizing our dream of creating an environment of care that is sensitive to each of Brooklyn's diverse communities."
The hospital's Bay Ridge coverage area boasts the largest Muslim community in the state, says a hospital spokesman. Antoine Faisal, publisher of Aramica, an Arab-American newspaper, has estimated that there are 150,000 Arab-Americans living within three miles of Lutheran.
The dedication of the new mosque was attended by some of New York's most prominent Muslims, including five imams and representatives from the Arab Association of New York and the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge.
The mosque, which is located on the main floor of the hospital, was six months in the making with the help of a team of volunteers, fundraisers and imams from Brooklyn's Muslim community. Brooklyn artist and calligrapher Majed Seif worked with Rana Bishara, a New York-based visual artist, to paint the mosque's decorative arches with traditional arabesque designs and verses from the Quran. Lutheran carpenters constructed special display cabinets for prayer materials and built an area for performing wudu, or ablution, the pre-prayer cleansing of the hands, face and feet.
Lutheran made a similar effort to appeal to the burgeoning Chinese community by increasing its Chinese-American staff, hiring a chef to prepare Chinese meals and training its employees in cultural sensitivity.
Two Florida men are suing the producers of the reality TV series "Trauma: Life in the ER," saying their privacy rights were violated when they were filmed while being treated for injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents in 2002. Plaintiffs Jack Dosch and Angel Marrero seek federal class-action status for their case against Orlando (Fla.) Regional Medical Center; NYT Television, a unit of the New York Times Co.; and the Learning Channel and its owner, Discovery Communications.
"Patients deserve to be treated as dignitaries and not laboratory rats," lawyer Brandon Peters, who represents Dosch and Marrero, told the Orlando Sentinel. Peters said film crews misrepresented themselves to patients by wearing medical garb to blend in with nurses and physicians and failing to fully explain the nature of their work.
Lawyers for the Times Co. and Orlando Regional say the only patients appearing on the show were those who had signed the consent forms or had family members sign for them.
Those ubiquitous iPods are most often worn by twentysomethings (when they aren't on their cell phones). One group we definitely don't think of as downloading iTunes is healthcare chief financial officers. Thanks to the Healthcare Financial Management Association, CFOs may be tuned in but probably not rocking out.
All of the educational sessions at the HFMA's recent National Institute in Las Vegas were recorded and turned into MP3 files so that attendees could check out such hits as how to outsource revenue cycle management or get governing boards to buy into interest-rate swaps. Who says accounting is dull?