Street Talk: From those who care about Obamacare

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October 4, 2013
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The health care industry often is labeled as stoic (at best) or apathetic (at worst).

But then there are people like Lody Zwarensteyn at Alliance for Health, who could never have either of those tags applied to him. So when we asked him for his take on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, he guided us to the man who will become his successor as executive director next summer, Paul Brand, and stepped out of the spotlight for the story in last Monday’s paper.

Once that published, he sent us a note detailing what health professionals really think of President Barack Obama’s plan.

“The American Medical Association has weighed in on the new health care package,” Zwarensteyn’s email began …

“The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves. The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the administration had a lot of nerve. The Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception. Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted. Pathologists yelled, “Over my dead body!” while the Pediatricians said, ‘Oh, grow up!’

“The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it. Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing. The Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow. The Plastic Surgeons said, ‘This puts a whole new face on the matter.’ The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea. The Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas. The Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no. In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the assholes in Washington.”

And there was no charge for this shot of humor!

We see you

The Business Journal’s website,, experienced its single busiest day last Monday in terms of number of page views. There were some nice stories that day, including the ArtPrize top 10, Grand Angels shelling out $1 million for health care research, and an informative blog about construction employment from John Parker at Elzinga & Volkers Construction Professionals.

But, honestly, the driver for the day’s activity was the man himself, Gov. Rick Snyder, who used his @onetoughnerd Twitter handle to share a story by reporter Charlsie Dewey about the Grand Rapids metro area ranking No. 2 in the country for per-capita job growth. We got some social media help from Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, too. And Jase Bolger. And Michael Finney’s crew over at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which topped its electronic newsletter with a link to the Business Journal story.

It seems the administration couldn’t wait to share the good news with the world and issued the command for a full-court press.

While we appreciate the assist, we just want to make sure the flurry of online activity from Lansing had absolutely nothing to do with creating a smokescreen to cover up Forbes, at about the same time, ranking Michigan 47th in terms of the best states to do business — because that would feel a little bit like being used.

Oops! Sorry, guv.

Overlap in Ludington

Lakeshore Health Network, a physician hospital organization owned and operated by Mercy Health Muskegon, just announced it has expanded its services to include Ludington.

LHN currently has a membership of more than 380 primary care and specialty physicians, four hospitals and an extensive network of ancillary providers.

LHN’s northern team will be led by Linda Mueller, northern clinical network manager, and Lori Goudie, northern network provider relations specialist.

A physician hospital organization, according to LHN, is “a vehicle enabling hospitals and physicians to work cooperatively toward accomplishing objectives (that) improve health care outcomes.”

There is only one hospital in the Ludington area — Memorial Medical Center. But as of Oct. 1, its name changed to Spectrum Health Ludington.

This summer, Memorial Medical Center agreed to affiliate with the Spectrum Health System, based in Grand Rapids, with Spectrum providing $6 million for health care initiatives in the Ludington community through the hospital. Spectrum committed to investing $46 million in the hospital over the next 10 years.

Mercy Health Muskegon is part of the larger Mercy Health system in West Michigan, which includes Saint Mary’s hospital in GR and is, in turn, a part of the huge CHE Trinity Health hospital system that has 82 hospitals in 21 states.

So: Is Mercy Health somehow going to be competing with Spectrum in Ludington?

“We do not intend to compete. We intend to work in a collaborative fashion,” said Linda J. Bailey, executive director of LHN in Muskegon.

“We hope to create an interface with the hospital so physicians affiliated with us can get their labs” done there, she said.

Bailey said LHN has spoken to the Ludington hospital several times over the last few years about the possibility of joining LHN. At this point, Spectrum Health Ludington is not a member — but that does not mean it can’t work with LHN.

“To create clinical integration, they do not need to be a member,” said Bailey. “Clinical integration is about linkages to support the broader community’s health needs. We will continue to work in a collaborative fashion with the hospital to meet those needs.”

And the winner is … us!

Each year, Steven Heacock, chairman of the Convention and Arena Authority, likes to host a reception on the opening evening of the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer and Food Festival at DeVos Place. Heacock’s little get-together always honors one of the businesses that participate in what is becoming a hugely popular piece of the city’s entertainment scene.

This year’s honoree is none other than … Gemini Publications!

Grand Rapids Magazine, Blue, Grand Rapids Family Magazine and the Business Journal have represented Gemini every year at the show, which is now in its sixth year.

“They like to recognize one business entity every year that not only is an important or integral part of the festival’s success, now or since inception, but is a business that is a true contributor to what Grand Rapids has become,” said Henri Boucher, vice president and show producer for ShowSpan.

Last year, the opening night reception honored Meijer Inc., the event’s Food Stage sponsor since the very beginning.

“We at ShowSpan certainly appreciate how you have worked with us as true media partners to get this event established and help it grow to be what it is: one of the more highly regarded festivals of its kind in the U.S.,” Boucher said. “This has occurred during the Grand Rapids renaissance. We have all seen incredible growth and maturation of our entertainment and dining scene. Grand Rapids Magazine has been a leader in encouraging and supporting this growth. Gemini’s other publications such as the Business Journal have also been in the forefront of the advancement of the area’s business culture.”

This year’s Wine, Beer and Food Festival is scheduled for Nov. 21-23.

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