Scan any national ranking of hospitals, and Boston consistently cracks the top five across disciplines. But it’s not enough. Even as they compete for patients beyond their regions, top-notch medical centers continually need new ways to stand apart. That urgency peaks in Boston, where unusually concentrated excellence leaves hospitals watching their backs. At stake? Hundreds of millions of dollars in annual earnings.  Boston-based healthcare consultant Ellen Lutch Bender, president and CEO of Bender Strategies, says the competitive…

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Research award established by Brown Rudnick LLP and the Arthritis Foundation Boston, Massachusetts, June 8, 2009 — Brown Rudnick, a premier international law firm, in partnership with the Arthritis Foundation Massachusetts Chapter, named Kirk P. Townsend, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as the recipient of the “Ellen Lutch Bender Arthritis Research Award.” This three-year, $150,000 postdoctoral fellowship will fund innovative research dedicated to the prevention, control and cure of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The award…

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Boston, Massachusetts, May 11, 2009 — Brown Rudnick, a premier international law firm, in partnership with the Arthritis Foundation, today established the “Ellen Lutch Bender Arthritis Research Award.” Named for a former Chairperson of the Arthritis Foundation and a former Director of Brown Rudnick’s Health Care Practice Group, this three-year, $150,000 postdoctoral fellowship will be awarded to a doctor to fund innovative research dedicated to the prevention, control and cure of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The…

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AS A PILOT for national universal health care, Massachusetts has succeeded in proving that increasing access to coverage alone is not the easy fix for reforming the broken health system. The more difficult work of taking out costs while maintaining access to care has yet to be done.   This essential work is now before us as we take up the dramatic medical payment reform recommended by a state commission.   So far, simultaneously expanding access and reducing costs…

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NO SINGLE reform would do as much to improve the wealth of our nation and the lives of Americans as a comprehensive overhaul of our health care system. But the best chance of swift and major reform may have died with the end of Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House. Senator Clinton kept health care on the front burner, promising action in her first term. Health care has already slipped as the top domestic concern,…

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Like the classic Pogo cartoon, when it comes to chronic disease in America, “we have seen the enemy and he is us.” Because as we baby boomers age, the already enormous toll chronic disease exacts – on those directly affected and the larger economy – will only grow unless we take action soon. In a very real sense, we are at a crossroads similar to the one we face with global warming. Like climate change, there…

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If we believe the Farmer’s Almanac; this winter will be colder than normal in New England. Expect falling temperatures to have a chilling effect on hospital bottom lines.   Medical centers use more energy per square foot than any other commercial building, spending $5.3 billion annually on energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.   Reducing energy costs is a conundrum for all hospitals, but especially in New England, which has the nation’s highest energy costs and some…

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In its search for a new leader for the Caritas Christi Health Care System, the Archdiocese of Boston and its board stand at a pivotal crossroads. They can make incremental changes to heal recent wounds and protect the status quo, or they can make bold foundational changes to ensure a strong future for six vitally important Massachusetts hospitals.   Upholding church conditions and continuing Caritas’s healing mission are essential to thousands of the state’s residents. But that…

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We of the post-managed-care generation have long gotten past nostalgia for the kindly family physician who made house calls 24/7. We now accept that he exists only in 1950s folklore and “Marcus Welby” reruns. But we are in danger of losing the next best thing, the primary care physician down the street.   Like the local hardware store and neighborhood grocer who have disappeared from our cities and towns, giving way to big box centers and super…

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At a time when we should be preserving our nation’s dwindling health care resources, a wave of class-action lawsuits likely to have just the opposite effect is being filed against not-for-profit hospitals across the country, including, most recently, Inova Health Care Services in Alexandria. The mass tort-type litigation that charges hospitals with failing to provide adequate charity care is a legally flawed, self-serving argument that nonetheless will cost hospitals millions of dollars to defend against…

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As if our nation’s hospitals were not already troubled, the crisis in health care has taken a perverse turn with the filing of multiple class action lawsuits across the country, including Massachusetts, which accuse not-for-profit hospitals of profiteering from the uninsured.   The absurdity of the charges, under the guise of public interest litigation, would be laughable if the stakes weren’t so high. At risk are the limited resources hospitals have to fulfill their mission of…

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A brave friend once taught me that overcoming denial is the first step to recovery. Most former addicts will attest to this. Denial is a powerful psychological defense that permits us to avoid dealing with harsh reality.   Unfortunately Massachusetts is in denial about the financial pressure on its hospitals, but the consequences are becoming so overwhelming they can no longer be ignored.   Our health care system cannot continue on its present path. Most Massachusetts hospitals are so…

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To the editor:   This changing of the guard at the top post of Tufts-New England Medical Center is more than a natural succession of leadership. Passing the reins to a non-physician for the first time in its history is a major symbolic turning point for the hospital and the communities it serves, the significance of which should not be unnoticed.   Tufts-NEMC is gaining and losing a great leader at the same time. Tom O’Donnell, who is stepping…

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Boston has long relied on a small circle of givers whose personal benevolence and corporate influence have been catalysts for the city’s most spectacular fund-raising successes. But these icons of institutional philanthropy may be an endangered species, and it is time not only for a new generation of corporate citizens to step up but also more widespread appreciation for individual philanthropy as a moral imperative in our society.   This month, the black tie season gets under…

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The human psyche is such that we yearn for differentiation, to be recognized without discrimination for the qualities that make us unique. Marketers know this. As consumers, we accept, even demand, the allocation of goods and services reflective of our relative worth. Preferred rates, VIP lines, and personal attention are rewards for the few, while the undifferentiated masses pay full price and wait.   When it comes to life and death, however, we rely on assurances that…

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By electing Mitt Romney, voters sent a clear message that business as usual cannot deliver Massachusetts from its woes. A successful entrepreneur, Governor-elect Romney brings skills that may finally break up the political hairball on Beacon Hill that has choked our state’s ability to innovate. The health care industry has suffered greatly from this sclerosis of creativity. Once a crown jewel of the Massachusetts economy, our health care delivery system is in such disarray it is…

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It is a horrendous irony that the religious path that would lead one individual to a life of hope, productivity and spiritual salvation would leave another aimless and conflicted, crushed by a despicable misuse of power that stole life’s most precious gift: the unity of faith.   Two boys from the same town of Newton attended the same schools, played the same childhood games and enjoyed the stability of a loving and extended family and friends. They…

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The recent reprieve for Deaconess-Waltham Hospital is a testament to the power of creative collaboration among unlikely bedfellows. It opened a new chapter in Massachusetts health care, one in which community stakeholders push back and say, “We no longer will allow our vital community institutions to be forfeited to destructive market forces created by a flawed health care system.”   For 116 years, Deaconess-Waltham Hospital has had a rich tradition of caring for its neighbors and providing…

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My mother did not recognize me the last time I saw her.   A modest and dignified woman, my mother had always been there, nourishing us with the words of encouragement, deeds of utter self-sacrifice, and a quiet strength that always made us protected no matter the hand dealt by life. That she was a great homemaker, wife, mother, and businesswoman was an inspiration to our family.   My mother never went to college, yet she ran a successful…

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