I’ve been thinking about building a new hospital in my home town. Rock Hill is a fast-growing area with an aging population and a lot of younger people with bad health habits, so it seems like the effort might be successful, even though we already have one major medical center in the county.
There’s an abandoned Blockbuster Video store not far from here that I bet I could rent for next to nothing. I’ve browsed in what was their music/comedy section and think it would convert nicely to an emergency room. I looked in the window and they still have the display racks for candy and popcorn, which could serve as a nice head start on the cafeteria. And I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a nurse, so I might have a leg up on hiring staff.
Unfortunately, the meddling, bloated government and its job-killing regulations are keeping me from fulfilling this dream I’ve had since last Tuesday, or maybe it was Wednesday. There’s something called a “certificate-of-need” law that requires would-be entrepreneurs like myself to receive approval from the Department of Health and Environmental Control before they can just go off and build hospitals on every other street corner.
In fact, there are three other outfits looking to do the same thing as me. The owner of the one hospital we already have, as well as two other large healthcare networks from adjacent counties, have been battling since 2004 for the right to build a new hospital just north of town. All three are now involved in a heavy media blitz, advertising in newspapers, and on TV and billboards to convince citizens to show their support for their particular effort. Apparently, if enough letters are received by the bureaucrat in charge, one of them will be awarded the right to build the hospital.
They’re making a strong pitch to convince people that their plan is best. “A growing county deserves choice … and that’s what Novant Health offers us,” reads one full-page ad. Carolinas Medical Center used its ad to reprint one of the letters it’s already received, a note from Sherry W. saying that CMC is “kind” and “always ready to help solve your medical problems.” Tenet Healthcare Corp. warns that if it doesn’t win, “the healthcare you trust is in danger.”
I can’t afford to compete with huge corporations such as these. Even if I could somehow fund the public relations campaign that’s apparently required, I don’t have the $76.2 million Novant would spend on a 64-bed facility, much less the $126 million Tenet would use on its proposed 100-bed location. And it’s a shame, because we all know how competition is the lifeblood of a free-market economy, and that if I could just have the opportunity to make my own innovative pitch, then the people of York County would be flocking to the Blockbuster site in numbers unlike anything seen since 1987, when Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold was one of America’s top rentals.
All I have is this modest little blog to make my case for what would be a hospital like no other hospital. So I’m listing here some features I would include that would capture the imagination of the hospital-going public and make confinement there a lot more enjoyable.
Stuff I would offer if I could be awarded the certificate of need to build my own hospital:
Free Chick-fil-A sandwich with every outpatient surgery
Commemorative DVD of your balloon angioplasty procedure, complete with a “blooper reel” and commentary from your surgeon, your anesthesiologist, and South Carolina’s “favorite daughter” Vanna White
Certification from the Department of Health that all food served in the hospital cafeteria does not contain meat surgically removed from humans
Half-off all aspirins dispensed in the chest pain clinic
Nurses from Hooters
A chapel not just for Christians but also one for believers in evolutionary theory (Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species” will be displayed under a spotlight on an ornate easel at the front of the room)
A “fun” way of notifying colonoscopy patients of the results of their procedures: chocolate Tootsie Pop presented at checkout for clean results; cherry Tootsie Pop presented to those who show a small amount of blood in their stools; lemon-lime Tootsie Pop given to those who are told to call their physicians immediately
Olive Garden-style beepers given to patients waiting to be seen in the emergency room, with a free order of breadsticks offered to anyone who has to wait more than four hours
Emergency transport system includes not only conventional ambulance vehicles and a helicopter on call, but also Segways, jet-packs and pneumatic tubes leading from local doctors’ offices to the hospital. Parachuting patients from low-flying plane will also be offered to the more adventurous and/or desperately ill.
In-room video poker to replace conventional entertainment, complete with a $100 stake
Unique gift shop offering items left behind by patients who didn’t survive their hospital visit
Dads have the option of coaching their laboring wives via a closed-circuit video feed from a separate wing of the hospital where they can’t be slapped or choked by the new mom
Prescriptions dispensed from a vending machine
Community charity care will take the form of offering random procedures to the poor.
Hospital bills will be handwritten by a trained calligrapher