Meet some spe­cial res­i­dents of Nas­sau Uni­ver­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter,

Modern Healthcare - - Editorial -

Ex­pec­tant par­ents mak­ing re­peat de­liv­er­ies at their fa­vorite hos­pi­tal is hardly un­usual, but when Out­liers heard of one cou­ple who over the years has de­liv­ered 50 lit­tle bun­dles of joy at Nas­sau Uni­ver­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter in East Meadow, N.Y., we ad­mit we were a bit skep­ti­cal.

Turns out we were ac­tu­ally fa­mil­iar with the pro­lific cou­ple. Out­liers first re­ported on pere­grine fal­cons Meadow and Brook in 2005 af­ter the ar­rival of their 30th and 31st ba­bies at the med­i­cal cen­ter. The cou­ple met at the hos­pi­tal—19 floors up on a ledge to be ex­act— 14 years ago and have been to­gether ever since. Ap­par­ently, the sparks are still fly­ing af­ter all those years. Meadow and Brook re­cently hatched four new lit­tle ones in their lit­tle love nest seated along a 17th-floor ledge, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of their chicks to be hatched at the hos­pi­tal to 50. The en­dan­gered fal­cons, who are pro­tected by the New York State En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion Depart­ment, have been de­liv­er­ing at Nas­sau Uni­ver­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter since at least 1997, when the state started track­ing the fam­ily.

The four lit­tle ones were re­cently banded so the state con­ser­va­tion depart­ment can track them for his­tor­i­cal data.

Four ap­pears to be a spe­cial num­ber for the cou­ple, who hatched that ex­act same num­ber of lit­tle ones dur­ing their first de­liv­ery at the med­i­cal cen­ter roughly 13 years ago.

Talk about bad tim­ing

It had to be some­thing of a worst-case sce­nario for hos­pi­tals in the Twin Cities.

There they were, star­ing down their nurses’ union across the bar­gain­ing ta­ble, fac­ing a huge vote on whether to au­tho­rize one of the largest nurse strikes in U.S. his­tory, and re­ly­ing on pub­lic re­la­tions spokes­woman (and nurse) Trish Dougherty to put on a good face and present the 14 hos­pi­tals’ in­ter­ests to the pub­lic.

Next thing they know, the hos­pi­tal ex­ecs are read­ing an item on the Min­nesota Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion web­site that says Dougherty has an un­sa­vory crim­i­nal past, hav­ing re­ceived pro­ba­tion in 2006 af­ter ad­mit­ting in court she stole $15,300 from her for­mer em­ployer—an­other hos­pi­tal, to boot.

Turns out Dougherty got 200 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice as pun­ish­ment for steal­ing the money while she served as hu­man re­sources di­rec­tor for Avera McKen­nan Hos­pi­tal in Sioux Falls, S.D. She used the money for res­i­den­tial land­scap­ing.

As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Todd Love was quoted by lo­cal tele­vi­sion sta­tion KELO as say­ing that he left sen­tenc­ing to the court, in­stead of ask­ing for the max­i­mum 10 years in prison for grand theft, af­ter talk­ing with Dougherty’s doc­tors: “They in­di­cated she’s not your clas­sic hard-core crim­i­nal,” Love was quoted as say­ing in the Jan. 30, 2006 KELO re­port.

Out­liers is guess­ing that was lit­tle com­fort to the Twin Cities hos­pi­tals whose pub­lic im­age Dougherty was rep­re­sent­ing.

Dougherty ceased her em­ploy­ment as a spokes­woman for the hos­pi­tals within hours of the re­port be­ing re­pub­lished by the nurses’ union this month.

And the nurses? They voted to au­tho­rize a one-day strike, but no date has been set.

Quotable

“That is An­drew Wake­field’s legacy. The hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and deaths of chil­dren from measles who could have eas­ily avoided the dis­ease. … He gave heft to the no­tion that vac­cines in gen­eral cause autism.”

—Paul Of­fit, chief of in­fec­tious dis­eases at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, on the United King­dom ban­ning Wake­field from prac­tic­ing medicine. Wake­field’s re­search, now dis­cred­ited, linked

the vac­cine for measles, mumps and rubella to autism. “In the past two years, (law­mak­ers) keep com­ing up to the dead­line—or a lit­tle past it—and waiv­ing the cuts for shorter and shorter pe­ri­ods of time, which makes us un­easy. … The cur­rent un­cer­tainty about what the fee sched­ule will be, and whether at some point there will be a 20% cut, makes it harder to ac­cept new Medi­care pa­tients. … I like to take care of older adults, but I have rent to pay, and a staff to pay.” —Su­san Crit­ten­den, a pri­mary-care physi­cian prac­tic­ing near Raleigh, N.C., who is tak­ing very few new Medi­care pa­tients, on the sus­tain­able-growth-rate for­mula for Medi­care

pay­ment to physi­cians. “They should have used Medi­care dol­lars to fix this. It’s ir­re­spon­si­ble” that the health­care law left such a ma­jor is­sue un­re­solved. “I think we should have put a crow­bar in our wal­lets and still come up with the money for the unin­sured. But in try­ing to meet a range of goals—hav­ing the bill not be more than $1 tril­lion and hav­ing it be bud­get-neu­tral— they dumped this is­sue.”

— For­mer Medi­care trustee Mar­i­lyn Moon, who now di­rects the health­care pro­gram at the Amer­i­can In­sti­tutes for Re­search, on the

sus­tain­able-growth-rate for­mula.

These ba­bies at Nas­sau Uni­ver­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter aren’t quite ready to leave the hos­pi­tal just yet.

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