I made it to the gym yesterday, and finished my physician owned hospital paper. It was quite eye-opening, I must say. Another of those cases in which it’s easy to see one side of the story till you look at the rest of the data — like the actual text of the law.

Here are some examples of POHs:


If you visit L.A.’s Chinatown, you might see the Pacific Alliance Medical Center – and you might wonder why there’s a statue of Joan of Arc, the patron saint of France, in front of a modern hospital in Chinatown. Built in 1868 to serve the city’s French immigrants, it became a Chinatown landmark in the 20th century. After 129 years of continuous service, the French Hospital was facing bankruptcy, and ready to close down. The move would have left the Chinatown neighborhood (a neighborhood of about a million people, many living in poverty) with no full-service hospital. In 1989, a group of forty Chinese doctors and businesspeople took a risk and raised enough money to save the hospital. Through the dedicated support of the people of the community and of the brave doctors who took that risk, PAMC is now a five star hospital.

Dunbar Memorial Hospital in Detroit was founded in 1918 by African-American doctors frustrated by the fact that so few Detroit hospitals allowed African-Americans. In the entire city, only one hospital accepted African-American patients, and that hospital had only 25 beds. African-Americans died at twice the rate of white residents of Detroit at that time, and the presence of Dunbar Memorial could spell the difference between life and death. Dunbar Memorial is now a museum.

St. Joseph’s Medical Center was Houston’s first hospital, built at the end of the 19th century. At the turn of this century, failing financially after 122 years in business, it was put up for sale. Analysts feared that the hospital, the main source of health care for the poor of Houston, would only be of interest to buyers who wanted downtown property on the cheap, and that its days of service as a hospital were over.  St. Joseph’s was rescued by its doctors. The only downtown Houston hospital, St. Joseph’s covers everything from mental health care to cardiac surgery, and has delivered one third of all the babies born in Houston.

True, these are just a few examples, but there are only a couple hundred POHs in the country, and there are so many examples like these. Doctors have opened hospitals because they want to give good care and feel frustrated with the way the hospitals they work at are administered.

Doctor owners at POHs typically own about 3% of the hospital, and those hospitals often lose money. Sometimes they’re profitable, though. The average is a 13% profit. In my field, a 25% profit is considered good. So we’re not usually talking about people getting rich — particularly since we’re so often talking about surgeons. They’re already rich. The difference to their incomes isn’t significant, and those who’ve been asked have expressed how offended they are by the suggestion that they’d ignore the good of their patients for the sake of a few extra dollars.

The law itself is bizarre, too.This may be the result of its being the work of a committee.

I also taught class, wrote blogs, and went to choir and bells. Today is an all writing day, with rehearsal this evening.