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Avera McKennan Hires Holiday Inn Executive

Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a bellboy....

We Americans spend twice as much per capita on health care as folks in other industrialized nations, without enjoying significantly better health outcomes or satisfaction.

Part of the reason for that inefficiency is that our hospitals inflate our bills to hire hotel managers as executives:

Longtime hotel manager Tom Bosch has been named vice president of hospitality services at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls.

The 46-year-old Bosch has been general manager at the Holiday Inn City Centre in Sioux Falls for 13 years. He begins his new job on Dec. 12.

David Kapaska, regional president for Avera, says he decided to hire Bosch after visiting the Ritz-Carlton hotel in San Francisco. Kapaska says hotels and hospitals are similar in food service, cleanliness and maintenance ["SD Hospital Hires Hotel Expert as Vice President," AP via, 2011.11.27].

A hospital is not a hotel. I don't want a room so comfy that I want to stay longer. When I come for a check-up or an appendectomy, I want my money to pay for effective staff, medicine, and healing, not a fluffy pillow or oak paneling.

Now I suppose that if you want a luxury suite at a hospital, you ought to be able to pay a premium for such accommodations. But insurance companies, Medicare, and self-paying consumers ought to be able to choose not to pay for fancy hotel fixin's when they go to the hospital. Hiring a hotel executive to help run a hospital points the further failing fo the for-profit health care system to focus on providing efficient health care.


  1. Roger Elgersma 2011.11.29

    It is true that oak panaling would not impress me when I am sick. But it might take an expert to keep a very sick person comfortable. If he can make his expertise fit a hospital could be a good thing.
    It is also true that hospitals not only charge a lot of money and have become very profitable even though they are non profits, keeping costs down can and should become a much higher priority. With national health care coming and hospitals competing for business when the government will be paying(already are for old people) we need a system to keep costs down and not just to attract patients.
    When I lived in Minnesota and super conservative Vin Weber was by congressperson he 'proved' that national health care would be way to expensive because government can not do anything good anyways. At the time Canada spent 11% of GNP on health care and we spent 13% of GNP on health care so theirs was cheaper than ours. Both had some people not getting as much as they would like but theirs was quite good and were still working out the bugs. Not many Canadians want it changed now. But last I heard ours now costs 17% of GNP.
    When people are ill they do not make as good of decisions and are in a conflict of interest if they want to argue about the costs when they are real sick. So if the government regulates costs would be better than now.

  2. troy jones 2011.11.29

    Personally I think it is genius

    First, a sick person has mental, physical, emotional and health needs. If the first are not being addressed, healing is impaired.

    Second, a sick person is greatly helped by visitors. A visitor friendly environment will encourage more quantity and quality visits.

    A hotel person definitely has expertise in this area.

  3. Bill Fleming 2011.11.29

    Having done a little work with hospitals PR wise and experienced some extended family hospital stays, I tend to agree with Troy on this.

    Hospitals have a terrible attitude toward patients historically.

    They use the triage mindset as a cover for ignoring real patient needs.

    This is a new concept in patient advocacy that started in the alternative (upscale) hospitals and is thankfully becoming a new standard in patient care across the board.

    Why shouldn't the hospital rooms be as nice and service minded as a four-star hotel room Cory? Right now most of them charge you about 5 times what a great hotel room costs and treat you worse than a Motel 6.

  4. Vickie 2011.11.29

    Having worked in health care for over 20 years as doesn't matter which department that I worked in (my 2 degrees speak for themselves) but, I can say with a certainty that there are numerous "certain" hospitals that claim to be non-profit while the real insiders can tell you that that claim is strictly PR. They are all about money. I'm not speaking about having a huge overhead that has to be covered. I'm talking pure profit. Billing practices that are questionable at best and the downright scary things ie: the high rate of medical errors,people sleeping on the job etc. that the average person has NO clue about.

    ...And then....speaking as a person with chronic health issues requiring frequent hospitalizations. I couldn't care less if the place looks like a fancy hotel. I care about the quality of care provided by staff. Hiring substandard staff,forcing them to work ridiculous schedules,requiring staff to take on so many responsibilities that they are even more prone to make errors when there are other professionals that could take on those tasks, is absolutely insane. (These folks are not the ones making the big bucks. That cash goes to the higher ups.)

    So keep the hotel ambiance out of the equation please healthcare organizations. Give people the quality of care that they deserve and pay for because in a "certain" heath care facility/organization that I am all too familiar just never knows if you'll leave under your own power or in a body bag whether you're a patient or a visitor.

    Before anyone even asks,yes,I live in a town with only one hospital. Sioux Falls is an option sometimes,but I'd prefer to drive right past there and return to Mayo. The clinic and hospital may not be all fancy shmancy in appearance,but my chances of high quality care and survival are A LOT higher.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.11.29

    Bill, you are right that for the prices we pay, we ought to get fancier rooms. But if I get sick, I would love to have the hospital say, "We can put you in our fancy room for our regular price, or we can put you in the commoners' ward for a discount." I would take the discount, no question.

  6. Christine Nelson 2011.11.30

    I've stayed at four different hospitals for the delivery of my children (as a military spouse this isn't unusual). Three of the hospitals were civilian the other a military facility. They were all very different. The quality of care was probably similar but there are certain niceties that would make me recommend some and not others. One hospital didn't give me my newborn back after a bath for well over and hour, even after I called several times. I was rather upset. That same hospital didn't have private rooms for the recover after childbirth, so I don't know if my husband could have stayed the night. This wasn't our first child, so it was okay, but he stayed with me for our first and that was important to me as a new mom. This shared room was very small and there was no room for my family to be with me and I learned WAY to much about my room mates medical condition. Thankfully I'm not delivering there again, which was a civilian hospital. The military hospital was also one of the better stays, the military was learned to treat it's people a little better and I'd deliver there again in a second.

    There are certain changes that might not be necessary, like huge expenses on decorating, but some attitude changes would be nice. Many older patients and some sick kids have extended stays and that needs to be considered. Yes, they are first and foremost patients who need medical treatment, but they are still human beings and treating them like guests might help them to recover sooner.

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