While Bill and Melinda Gates are giving away tens of millions of dollars for worthy medical causes, the company Bill founded is running roughshod over a healthcare institution.
Microsoft Corp., which had been developing the newest edition of its Windows operating system under the code name Longhorn, announced on July 21 it was renaming the software Windows Vista.
This did not sit at all well with a lot of people associated with the Veterans Health Administration's clinical computer system, called the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, which goes by the trade name Vista. The VA filed for a trademark protection on its logo and name in 1996.
The timing of the Microsoft announcement couldn't have been worse, according to Barbara Boykin, president of the Vista Software Alliance, a group of information technology companies that includes tech titans such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Perot Systems Corp., as well as a number of smaller firms. The CMS is scheduled to release on Aug. 1 a version of the VA's Vista for use by office-based physicians as an electronic medical-records system.
Ignorance is no excuse for encroaching on a trademarked product, she says. "Fairly recently, the (Vista alliance) had been talking with Microsoft about membership in the alliance," Boykin says. "It does distract from a very noble effort by our government to get software for an electronic medical record to small physician offices that haven't been able to afford it heretofore. It's distracting from that and creating a confusion that's unnecessary."
The VA's Vista runs on Windows products, Boykin notes. "It's surprising they would do that to the Veterans Administration, which is such a good customer," she says.
Microsoft spokesperson Stacy Drake, in a prepared statement, ducked the issue of propriety, noting that the company "conducted a thorough search to ensure the Windows Vista mark would not infringe on the marks of others."
Vista is a name "commonly used by a variety of companies in a variety of industries. We are only using the word Vista paired with our trademark Windows," Drake wrote.
Stay logged on for more on this saga.
Barber Shop III
Beauty parlors and barber shops in Ocala, Fla., aren't just for making customers look good -- they're also about health.
Beauticians in the area take part in a program called ShopTalk in which they learn how to talk to customers about the dangers of breast cancer and the importance of getting mammograms. Margaret Thomas, a retired nurse of 40 years, started the grass-roots effort, which targets black women.
Four times a year, Thomas helps lead a session at Central Florida Community College to teach the beauticians about some aspects of breast cancer and ways to ward it off. At the most recent meeting in April about 40 people attended.
"We go over anatomy and physiology; we also go into nutrition," Thomas says. "Weight plays a big role in breast cancer."
The beauticians then take the information they get from the meetings and try to deliver it to their clients. However, Thomas warns them not to delve right into the topic when customers are in the beauty parlor chair.
"The word cancer just stops people in their tracks," she says.
Thomas says a better way to broach the subject is to bring up a recent news event that might be linked to cancer and ease into the topic. The program has been so successful that Thomas has started ShopTalk 2, which branches out to barber shops in an effort to educate men about prostate cancer.
Thomas started ShopTalk in 2001 with a $30,000 grant from 340-bed Munroe Regional Medical Center, Ocala. Now the Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research funds the program and provides $12,500 annually.
Over the years, others in the community have helped. A local realtors association purchased 20 televisions with VCRs that were placed in the beauty parlors so interested customers can watch an informational video on preventive care.
Veggie burgers and carrot sticks may have tipped the scales in a controversy over whether a McDonald's restaurant should stay in one of the nation's premier hospitals, renowned for its cardiac care.
Offering to add those artery-friendly items to the menu met with the approval of Cleveland Clinic chief executive and cardiac surgeon Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, a spokeswoman says.
"We are generally pleased with the progress that has been made so far and will continue to work toward improvements on menu items and cooking techniques," says spokeswoman Eileen Sheil.
Cosgrove, upon being named CEO late last year, began questioning whether it was appropriate that a hospital known for cardiac care should be host to a fast-food restaurant famous for greasy cheeseburgers and oversized french fry servings.
McDonald's Corp. executives had been meeting with hospital officials in the past few months. The chain had already added its fruit and walnut salad to the menu but now has broadened the heart-healthy fare.
Turan Strange, owner of the McDonald's franchise at the Cleveland Clinic, says the restaurant has satisfied the clinic's concerns. "I've said all along, we value our relationship with the Cleveland Clinic and welcome the opportunity to help our customers understand how our menu can fit into a balanced, active lifestyle," he says.