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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« September 6, 2005 | | September 8, 2005 »
September 7, 2005

Gov shifts staff to campaign mode

Finance Director Tom Campbell is taking a two-month leave of absence to campaign for Schwarzenegger's budget reform measure, Proposition 76. The Bee reported yesterday that Pat Clarey and Rob Stutzman will also be moving to the campaign payroll. Peter Siggins will fill in for Clarey through the election.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:00 PM

When the buck stops somewhere

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating story today which, unfortunately, I cannot find online. It's about one of those evil for-profit health care companies, HCA, and its amazing effort to evacuate one of its hospitals in New Orleans last week -- including assembling a fleet of 20 private helicopters from around the region and bringing in ham radio operators to act as air traffic controllers.

Here is an excerpt:

HCA’s evacuation of critically ill patients in the midst of poor flying conditions, no electricity, weak phone links and frequent sniper fire stands out among rescue operations in New Orleans in the aftermath of the hurricane. It throws into relief a corresponding failure of the public-rescue system: No such operation occurred across the street, at state-run Charity Hospital.

Indeed, HCA helped rescue up to 50 patients from Charity, many of whom were critically ill. Although HCA’s own patients and employees were in peril, the company’s ability to launch and execute a rescue shows how advance planning and private resources gave HCA and its patients a far different experience than those at Charity and other public hospitals.

“We were unable to get any government help in evacuating,” says Norman McSwain, a professor of surgery at Tulane and trauma director at Charity, who worked at both hospitals throughout the crisis. Two evacuated patients, both from Charity, didn’t make it.

The evacuation was the result of bold decisions by senior executives in the heat of the moment, coupled with some careful advance work. Last fall, top brass from HCA and its hospitals met at the Hyatt Hotel in Orlando, Fla., for a “Hurricane Lessons Learned” meeting. Three hurricanes had roared through Florida over the previous months, and HCA, whose 190 hospitals and 91 outpatient surgery centers are concentrated in the Southeast, wanted to better protect its facilities.

Some key gaps HCA identified: Cell phones often fail, so alternative phone systems are needed. Roads become impassable, so emergency supplies have to be stored closer to hospitals. Back-up generators are vital for cooling and diagnostic equipment, especially in summer, when hurricanes tend to strike.”

If you can't find the WSJ story, here is a press release from HCA that describes what the company did.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the article. Thanks to LC.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:45 PM

Miserable company

What do Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis have in common? A majority of California voters say they are not inclined to reelect either one of them. Today's Field Poll found that 56 percent of likely voters are not inclined to elect Schwarzenegger to a second term should he choose to run, and the governor is trailing both Phil Angelides and Steve Westly in hypothetical match-ups for 2006. The poll also queried folks for their thoughts on Davis. Only 20 percent said they would be willing to vote for him again if he tried a comeback.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:34 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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