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October 20, 2008

DC Hospitals Party

Big shout-out to the Greater DC Cares! Don't miss the Class of Change event, honoring new leaders in philanthropy. This Wed, Oct 22 at The Park at Fourteenth. See ad to the right for more details.


On Thursday, we removed our scrubs, dressed up fancy, and gawked at medical A-listers for DCHA's 30th Annual Banquet, where DC hospital brass (CEOs, CMOs, HMOs?) descended on the Hilton Washington to dine, joke, and recognize outstanding effort. The event comes but once a year, so strap in, we didn't want to miss a thing.


These gents oversee more beds than the tooth fairy. Sibley CEO Bob Sloan, Washington Hospital Center CEO Jim Caldas, Providence CFO David Sparks, and Children's National CEO Ned Zechman, who tells us Children's was named a Leapfrog Group 2008 Top Hospital, one of only seven US children's hospitals so honored. He also touted the School Health Program, a joint effort with the city to keep high-quality nurses in every DC school. For more info, Ned suggested we talk to the man behind it all, Councilman David Catania. We tried, but. . .


. . . Ned was already there. Councilman Catania was awarded the DCHA's Public Service Award, and despite the infinite celebrity it brings, still made time to chat with us. He says the city is adding $51 million in capital to area hospitals and clinics. Last Friday, it put out an RFP and expects strong competition for the funds. David also took a minute to express relief that the city successfully sold United Medical Center (formerly Greater Southeast) to Specialty Hospitals last year, noting that Michael Reese Medical Center in Chicago, under the same ownership as Greater Southeast, has filed for bankruptcy. Says Catania: "We missed a bullet."


What do chief medical officers like Georgetown's Rich Goldberg and WHC's Janis Orlowski talk about when they get together? Batman, of course. Rich tells us his son was an associate producer on the recent Dark Knight flick and actually inserted dad's name into a bit of dialogue. However, we're not convinced it was intentional when Bruce Wayne says during one cold, wintery scene "How'd I get rich? Gold. Brrr." (Zing. Goodnight, everybody! Don't forget to tip your waitress.) Janis wanted to recognize a hero of her own: New Chairman of Surgery Jon Ricotta, a SUNY-Stony Brook export whose first day was Thursday.


Psychiatric Institute prez Ken Courage, left, a DCHA board member, can add moderator to his r?sum?. With him, Michael Brown and Patrick Mara, political opponents for the At-Large DC Council spot. (Mara defeated Carol Schwartz in the Republican primary.) Both candidates favor tort reform, a core DCHA issue. In a bit of confusion, both politicos worked the room by kissing hands and shaking babies, but luckily there were a few pediatricians on hand to monitor vitals.


Global Pharmaceutical Sourcing CEO Michael Borch flanked by colleagues Heather Ingram and Kelly Eicher. You know Michael from stints as CEO at GW, Columbia Hospital for Women, and Managed Care Assistance Corporation. He's still making life easier for hospitals, recently releasing a wound care product that costs 10% of similar remedies.


Specialty Hospital of Washington's COO Chad Eichelberger and CMO Manisha Singal with SHW-Hadley CEO Jerry Amato. Chad says plans are on track to add 50 beds in United Medical Center (which SHW will manage) to create the first extended acute care hospital in Ward 7. As for Hadley, Jerry says they hope to re-open OR suites that were closed by the previous owner. First step: secure a Certificate of Need, which he's hoping to complete by April 1.


DCHA president Bob Malson introduced the keynote speaker, and his friend of 20 years, Council Chairman Vincent Gray. Gray did not seem eager to celebrate the fact that Ward 7 and 8 lead the District in heart disease, hypertension, asthma, HIV, and, by our count, getting mentioned in speeches about health disparities. How bad is the problem? In an informal survey, Vincent tallied 700 primary care physicians in downtown DC and only 30 east of the river. But he also highlighted successful programs, including a needle exchange and the Healthcare Professional Recruitment Act, which allows physicians and nurses to be reimbursed up to $120,000 for their education if they work in an underserved area.


DC Dept. of Mental Health director Steve Baron and Dept. of Healthcare Finance director Julie Hudman. Julie's department is brand new (just separated from DOH), and she took over on October 1. She tells us her overall goal is improving outcomes for Medicaid patients, but more immediately, she just wants to be prepared for when Mayor Fenty asks "What am I getting for our $2 billion?" We believe that's Medicaid spending and not her salary.

Curtis Raye enjoyed putting names to faces when he met you all at this event. He also regrets putting hands to faces and hopes you can forgive him. Send absolution and story ideas to

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