Georgia Hospital Keeping Watch on Olympic Weightlifting Gold

During the weightlifting competition at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, all that glitters may have a connection with Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga.

It’s odd enough that seven members of the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team hail from the small coastal city (something in the water?); but four of those seven have strong personal connections to 373-bed Memorial Health.

The mother of heavyweight medal contender Cheryl Haworth is a Memorial Health operating-room nurse; alternate Suzanne Leathers is a critical-care nurse; the mother of alternate Michael Martin works in respiratory therapy; and Michael Popson, the manager of Memorial Health’s sports medicine program, is a trainer with the U.S. Olympic team. (Press time arrived before the weightlifting competitions.)

Kim Lee, Memorial Health’s media relations specialist, insists that Savannah does not pump human growth hormones into its water system. And she categorically denies that the hospital allows its caregivers and their family members to transport patients via their shoulders.

Lee does mention that Memorial Health is building a new 56,000-square-foot acute-care facility on the medical center’s campus that will house sports medicine. And she credits trainer Popson for keeping members of the local weightlifting club, Team Savannah, primed for competition. Haworth, Leathers, and Martin are members.

Otherwise, Lee is keeping mom about the secrets behind Savannah’s and Memorial Health’s improbable Olympic success.

A gift that keeps giving. Amazing what a little kindness can get you.

In this case, $5 million.

A decade ago, John Johnson began sending $10 donations to 313-bed Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, N.Y., where he’d been treated as a boy.

After getting thank-you notes from Children’s staff member Elsie Dawe, Johnson continued to donate about $20 a year. Dawe stayed in contact with Johnson, even visiting his family’s farm in suburban Buffalo.

When Johnson died in March, his estate was valued at $11 million. He willed $5 million to Children’s, stipulating that it go mainly for intensive care and the nursery. The first $1 million installments were scheduled to arrive at the hospital last week.

It’s the largest bequest Children’s has ever received.

A chocolate world. Chocolate lovers unite.

According to new research unveiled at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual congress last month in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, chocolate may actually play a key role in maintaining a healthy heart.

Cocoa polyphenols, naturally occurring substances in chocolate, appear to help relax blood vessels, the research suggests. Impaired blood vessel function is increasingly recognized by doctors as an important factor in developing heart disease.

What’s more, these polyphenols are believed to act as antioxidants, minimizing the effects of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. And they may even help reduce the formation of blood clots.

“While more research is necessary,” says Carl Keen, M.D., a professor of internal medicine and nutrition at the University of California, Davis, who presented the data at the congress, “these results suggest that chocolate may contribute to a healthy diet.”

Pass the bonbons.

Web exposure. The Catholic Health Association is out in front when it comes to public disclosure of its finances on the information superhighway.

The St. Louis-based group is the first of the Big Three hospital associations to put its annual Internal Revenue Service filing, called a Form 990, on the Web.

The CHA posted its Form 990 on its Web site (www.chausa.org) earlier this month.

Tax-exempt groups, such as the CHA, are required to make their annual filings available to the public.

But the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents for-profit providers, aren’t as technologically savvy about releasing their Form 990s.

Their filings still come the old-fashioned way: on paper.

“Never thought about it,” says Richard Wade, who is the AHA’s senior vice president for strategic communications.

Although no one has suggested that the AHA put its Form 990 on the Web, “there’s no reason it shouldn’t be up there,” Wade says.

Putting the federation’s filing on the Web isn’t something members have asked for, says spokesman Dan Boston. At this time, he says, there are no plans to do so.

Maybe the AHA and the federation could learn a little something from the CHA.

In case you were wondering. What’s the best job? The worst? What job has the best working environment? The worst?

A new book–Jobs Rated Almanac by Les Krantz (St. Martin’s Griffin)–will tell you all that and more.

A financial planner is listed as the best job (No. 1), fisherman as the worst (No. 250).

As for healthcare jobs, a “hospital administrator” was deemed to have the fourth-best working environment.

What job has the worst working environment? President of the United States.

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