Street Talk

Street Talk: Don’t have a heart attack over transplant sticker shock

Race day.

September 13, 2013
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A team of Spectrum Health surgeons performed a combined heart and lung transplant in late August, and Spectrum put the word out about it last week.

It was the first such combined operation in West Michigan and the first in Michigan since 1999. Only 15 have been done in Michigan.

Jeffrey Sargent, 56, of Rockford, is said to be in good condition.

A team headed by Dr. Asghar Khaghani, surgical director of Spectrum Health’s Richard DeVos Lung Transplant Program, performed the transplant. He was assisted by Dr. Theodore Boeve and anesthesiologists Dr. Penny Wilton, Dr. Marc Sink and Dr. Matthew Palmer. Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Tomasz Timek was also involved.

“This is a milestone for us and for West Michigan,” said Matthew G. Van Vranken, executive vice president, Spectrum Health Delivery System. “Our program is maturing and West Michigan patients continue to receive highly specialized care in their region, reducing travel, costs and stress to them and their families.”

Speaking of cost: According to actuarial research firm Milliman, in 2011 the average total billed charges for a combined heart-lung transplant were $1,148,400. That broke down to $56,800 in the 30 days before the transplant; $130,500 for procuring the heart and lung; $777,700 for hospital transplant admission; $81,000 for the physician doing the transplant; $169,100 for 180 days of post-transplant care; and $33,300 for immunosuppressant drugs.

The Business Journal asked Spectrum Health about the cost of the transplant for Mr. Sargent, and a spokesperson replied it was estimated to be “a little over $200,000.”

Is that all? Based on what Milliman’s average is?

Well, no, that wasn’t all. The spokesperson said Spectrum doesn’t know yet what the total cost will be. The $200K represents “the transplant event for the hospital only. Patients are typically here for about 21 to 28 days.”

Spectrum Health has one of three adult heart and lung transplant programs in Michigan and received state approval for them a little over three years ago. The first heart transplant was performed there in November 2010, and the first lung was transplanted in February this year.

Eye of the turtle

Almost everybody has to do it at some point. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, networking is a necessary evil.

Kim Bode, principal at 834 Design, recently posted a blog that might be helpful for those required to attend lunches, evening soirees, breakfast events, baseball games, etc.

“It isn’t that hard, right? You just show up, have a couple drinks, make conversation and — boom! — a great relationship is born,” she quipped. “Wouldn’t it be great if it was really that easy?”

Since it’s not, here are some of Bode’s tips for effectively using your time when you’d rather be at the office attacking your to-do list.

  • Get a clue: Ask yourself this: What is the point of these events? What do you want to get out of it? Do some research and don’t be lazy about it. Check the Facebook event and see who is going. Connect with them before the event and share via your social networks that you will be attending and are ready to mingle. Also, don’t show up without your business cards. These are one of your main tools, along with your personality, for people to remember you.
  • Hello, my name is … Slim Shady? We get it. It’s not always easy to approach people you don’t know; everyone feels like an idiot approaching a perfect stranger and saying, “Hello, my name is …” Here is what works for us: 1) If alcohol is available, get a drink. Then buy the person next to you a drink. You just started a conversation. 2) Bring a friend, approach groups together and introduce yourself and your “colleague.” 3) If you are running solo, walk up to a group and say, “Hello, my name is such and such and I like unicorns or turtles.” OK, that last one is a joke, but say something memorable or funny. Everyone is at an event to make new connections, so don’t stand there staring at a wall.
  • Just shut up already: When meeting new people, you want to talk about yourself a little bit, but don’t overdo it. Balance the conversation and let everyone around you talk, too. Show a sincere interest in what others are talking about by asking questions, even if you really don’t care what they are saying. Refrain from being a “one-upper” — you know, the guy who has to top everything the guy before him said. That guy is annoying; don’t do that. Listen, say something funny, listen some more, hand out your card and then walk away.
  • Stalk people: Want to avoid the awkward? Get in a little “stalking” before the event. Find out who RSVP’d via Facebook, EventBrite or whatever, and then connect with them on LinkedIn. Send them a message and let them know you are going to be at the event and look forward to meeting them. Now, you know someone. Do that multiple times and you have multiple people to talk to. It is like a good math problem: 1+1+1 = multiple connections.
  • It is called mutually beneficial: If you do something nice for someone else (it is called the Golden Rule), such as connecting them with someone or inviting them to attend a lunch with you or just sending them a thank-you note … they will often return the favor. Be helpful, humble and giving. Nice people finish first.
  • Don’t over-think it: Know where you are going, the purpose of the event, then grab a drink or cup of coffee and approach someone. If you are uncomfortable, open with, “Hey, this is my first time at one of these things, so I am awkwardly approaching people and saying hello. Hello.” Be funny, it is your best offense. It really is all about who you know. So know people. Lots of people.

Restart your engines

All of this work putting together the Business Journal’s 30th anniversary issue had staffers digging through the archives (both mental and physical) in an effort to present an interesting look at the last three decades of business in West Michigan. We hope you enjoy today’s special section.

One thing really got us revved up, however. In 1998, the West Michigan Grand Prix enjoyed Newsmaker of the Year status. Two years later, it was gone.

Gentlemen, is now a good time to restart your engines? The event, which was organized by Dan DeVos and Sam Cummings, drew 300,000 people to downtown Grand Rapids over a long weekend, generated lots of excitement and civic pride, and pumped money into downtown businesses. Fifteen years later, the downtown landscape has changed … but not the streets. With successful events like ArtPrize and Restaurant Week — as well as more national conventions — now drawing thousands of people to the city’s streets, it seems like a good time to resurrect a road race of some sort and give Grand Rapids even more national attention.

Now, if the gearheads can just get that title sponsor thing in the bag ahead of time …

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