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Beyond Jello And Toast: Hospital Chefs Face Off In Contest

Yuck. (A 2007 photo from a Canadian hospital)

What will they compete on, who makes the reddest Jello? The toughest toast? Who best mixes apple juice concentrate with water?

That was my admittedly snarky reaction when I got word that later this month, 13 of the Boston area’s top hospital chefs would be competing in a culinary contest that organizers believe is unique in the nation.

Even the press release for the event had to acknowledge an image problem for hospital food:

When asked what to say to those who think hospital food is “gross,” Chef James Boyd, Executive Chef at Children’s Hospital Boston, said “They haven’t been to a hospital lately! From old school ‘hospital food’ as they call it, it’s changed so much. There are more healthy items out there and we’re doing more sauté items to order now.”

Boyd and his team are one of 13 hospital and healthcare teams battling it out in the “Best Chef of the Healthcare Industry” competition to help celebrate the Massachusetts Health Council annual award gala on October 27th at the Boston Seaport Hotel.

It may surprise many people to learn that hospital chefs are trained at some of the best culinary institutes around the world. The competition is an opportunity for them to change the perception that many people have about hospital food and to shine a spotlight on the healthy ingredients they use to create palate-pleasing menus for their patients.

I can’t recall a single palate-pleasing thing from my time in the hospital several years ago — readers, has anyone had a delicious hospital meal lately? — but I do buy the premise that hospital chefs can help lead the way on healthier cooking. They often have little choice about, say, keeping sodium or sugar low.

‘It’s very counterintuitive for hospital and health care food to be featured as something special and wonderful.’

And improved hospital food fits perfectly into the trend that Rachel noted recently here in her post on single-bed hospital rooms, that patients are being rebranded as consumers.

So, for example, Chef Manar Alsebai, the production manager of patient food at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says that his kitchens offer food room-service style: Patients have a menu and can order whatever they want from it between 7 in the morning and 8 at night. The food should arrive within 45 minutes. “I’m not saying it’s perfect,” he said. “It’s a challenge sometimes, because of the elevator and other challenges, but I still think it’s good compared to what used to be done.”

Chef Brian Ray, food and nutrition operations manager at The Lahey Clinic, compared a patient’s tray today to what it would have been like ten years ago. Continue reading

Breaking: Globe Reports Lahey-Beth Israel Merger Talks

The Boston Globe reports here:

The Lahey Clinic and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, two respected academic medical centers, are the latest Massachusetts hospitals to open merger discussions.

Dr. Howard Grant, president of Lahey in Burlington, recently proposed that the two institutions join forces — though both sides said the discussions are preliminary.

Now for some grains of salt:

Grant’s vision, according to a hospital source, is to form a parent corporation with its own chief executive to oversee a fully integrated health care system that includes the two teaching hospitals as well as a half-dozen community hospitals.

Hartman downplayed the proposal, saying that Grant is “talking to everybody. Dr. Grant has talked to almost every single teaching hospital in the state and talked to the majority of hospitals in our service area.”

Beth Israel Deaconess spokesman Jerry Berger echoed those remarks. “We talk to lots of people about lots of things in this economy and climate and with the changes in health care,” he said.

Long-Lost ‘Lahey Memo’ On FDR’s Health Unveiled

Wikipedia

A famous FDR portrait interrupted by his death

Historical conspiracy theorists, here’s a juicy one!

The Lahey Clinic is about to unveil a fascinating memo from 1944, in which the clinic’s founder, Dr. Frank Lahey, reports that he examined President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and found him far too sick to run for a fourth term. The rest is history: FDR ran anyway, made it through Yalta, and died of a  massive stroke on April 12, 1945.

Here’s how the memo may have helped shape the course of events, says Dr. John Libertino, director of the clinic’s Sophia Gordon Cancer Center: After examining FDR, and noting his ailing health, Dr. Lahey warned the president of the importance of his selection of a vice president. The Democratic party then questioned the left-leaning ideology of the current vice president, helping pave the way for the choice of Harry Truman.

The Lahey Clinic plans to unveil a large copy of the memo — which was hidden away for years in the clinic’s safe, then a law office — at a Lahey alumni association meeting tomorrow night. The evening will also feature medical theories from two authors, the Lahey reports:

In his book, Conspiracy of Silence: The Health and Death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dr. Harry S. Goldsmith centers his hypothesis around a memo written by Lahey Clinic Founder, Dr. Frank Lahey, after the physician evaluated FDR. The memo, kept secret for many years, suggests that Dr. Lahey warned FDR not to seek a fourth term due to his severe heart failure.

Meanwhile, in their book, FDR’s Deadly Secret, co-authors Steven Lomazow, MD, and Eric Fettmann, blame the president’s death on a dark spot seen over his left eyebrow that they believed to be a form of melanoma.

For the meanwhile, here’s a little snippet of the memo, and the Lahey says we can post the whole thing on Monday:

Courtesy of the Lahey Clinic

And here’s a lightly paraphrased version of how Dr. Libertino, chair of the clinic’s institute of urology, tells this riveting medico-historical yarn:

In 1944, FDR’s health was failing dramatically, so much so that there was concern about the prospect that he would run for a fourth term. The Democratic National Committee decided he should run.  FDR himself was not sure. The physicians responsible for his care were concerned, but they were responding to the needs of the Democratic party, and the country was in the throes of World War Two. Toward the latter part of March, 1944, it was decided by Admiral McIntyre, the physician in charge of Roosevelt’s care on a day-to-day basis, that he would convene two experts to evaluate the president. One was Dr. Frank Lahey, a world-famous surgeon who had gotten to know Roosevelt because he was in charge of recruiting physicians for the military during World War Two. Continue reading

Lahey Clinic Names New CEO

Howard Grant, a lawyer and physician, is named CEO of Lahey Clinic

Lahey Clinic announces the appointment of a new president and CEO, Howard Grant, a lawyer and physician who is currently the vice-president and chief medical officer at Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania.

Here’s what Lahey’s PR department has to say about Dr. Grant, who replaces David M. Barrett, MD.:

At Geisinger, a group practice with 60 locations and 1200 providers, including three hospital campuses, Grant was responsible, with his administrative colleagues, for operations and budgets for 27 clinical service lines, strategic planning, and physician and administrator recruitment. He was also charged with aligning clinical operations with Geisinger Health Plan, a not-for-profit insurance company based in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Prior to joining Geisinger, Grant had a long tenure at Temple University Health System in Philadelphia, where he served in a succession of leadership roles, including chief medical officer. He was responsible for performance improvement, risk management and patient safety; integration of clinical and operational programs across multiple facilities; and clinical leadership of case and disease management.

Geisinger, which operates a network of clinics and hospitals as well as its own insurance company, has been in the news lately, with stories in The New York Times, The Financial Times and other publications about its innovations in payment and delivery of care.