Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hospital Plans on Life Support?

(ooh, look I could be a headline writer)
(Pre-Script: Speaking of newspapers, what's up with the Syracuse.com site? Articles have become increasingly error-riddled, the site is laid out in the least-intuitive way possible, and there are ZERO images. I think the P-S might want to think about a major overhaul...)

It seems everyone from Upstate Medical University President Dr. David Smith to County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro is opposed to a state commission's proposal to slice off University Hopsital from Upstate, privatize it, and then merge it with Crouse. A public hearing by State Asssemblypersons Monday at the OnCenter drew a crowd of 300. And, in my limited experience, 300 people don't show up at a public hearing to thank officials for a job well done, so you can guess their attitude.

It seems that everyone acknowledges that Crouse and Upstate should cooperate more (they are next door to each other, connected by underground tunnels, have strengths in different specialties, could cut costs tremendously, etc.). But privatizing University could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Dr. Smith, and, what in my mind might be even worse, damage the medical university significantly by destroying the intertwinity (that's a new word) of the hospital and the school. Upstate Medical University has a long long tradition in this town; truly one of our crown jewels. And University Hospital is second to none in the region. And the area's largest employer. This is something worth not screwing up. And with really cool stuff like this going on, we really don't need the nasty fight this is going to be.

I'm completely sympathetic to the fact that a heavy fiscal burden put on states in terms of providing medical care, and cutting costs may be needed. But the tough decisions that need to be made to address this problem (like cutting the federal tax burden and raising state and local taxes) are being ignored in favor of this sort of temporary action.

All the progress the 'Cuse has made in the last few months could really be jeopardized if anything bad happens to one of the two giants on the Hill.


Blogger Steve said...

The post standard's syracuse.com has turned from a flashy site to a just plain worthless one. How difficult is it for them to link to the articles that are in their own paper? It takes me 2-3 clicks to get anywhere, and the front page is littered with links to "breaking news blurbs". On top of all that, if you link to an article, after 2 weeks the link is broken, and you have to pay for the archives (which who the hell does in the age of google and it's tremendous archives?) Phew, felt good to get that off my chest. Glad to see someone else is frustrated with it. I vote for overhaul.

In regards to the hospital decision, I don't understand why we have to lose the SUNY demarcation on Upstate. And if we do, did SU ever think about getting into the Medical School business? (Nancy, might be good training for a future Harvard job...) Just a thought before my second cup of coffee.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Brian Cubbison said...

At The Post-Standard, we always have to point out that we don't run the Syracuse.com site. It's run by a separate division of the company. We have to push and cajole to get things changed. But we do have a photo gallery and even video now. I'm curious about what kind of improvements you would like to see. What would make the site more intuitive for you?

Brian Cubbison

8:59 AM  
Blogger TheAlumnus said...

Hi Brian! Thanks very much for posting. It's good to know about the separate structure between the Post-Standard and Syracuse.com, which I can only imagine is a source of frustration for you folks at times. And thanks for asking for our comments, as well!

1. In terms of images, I think it would be nice if photos, maps, and other graphics which accompany a given article in the print edition, were likewise available with the same article on the website. Especially when the story has to do with, say, construction of a new building, or some such thing, not having the picture easily accessible greatly detracts from the story's impact.

2. In terms of the website, I think I find it too busy, if that makes sense. The best newspaper sites, in my opinion, are those like the NY Times and Washington Post, which are laid out in a very similar style to their print editions. The Post-Standard has a style that is familiar to its readers, and if it was replicated more on the website, I think it would be much easier to get to articles of interest. For example, publishing more text from the lead story, and publishing leads for secondary stories, on the home page.

You have to scroll down quite a ways on the main page to get to the link for the daily Post-Standard index. There are also a lot of extraneous features, presented in long text lists, which seem to clutter the page rather than add to it.

Just my two cents. I read Syracuse.com daily, so obviously I find it very useful. As someone who lives outside CNY, however, I wish it was a little more like the P-S in terms of readability.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

First, I'm glad to see Brian's comment here, because I agree that the Syracuse.com site is, well, junky and terrible, but it's a place to get information when one doesn't buy a daily newspaper. Maybe the Post Standard should look into having its own site.

Second, I agree that combining the two hospitals would be a major mistake, but understand what the commission has recommended overall. The state is looking for ways to save money, and, as it was pointed out that University Hospital is the major employer in our area, think of how much money the state could save on just that one deal.

Still, the commission was tasked to only look at financial issues, not global issues after the fact, and that's the biggest problem with its recommendations. It's a much different market across the rest of the state than it is in the NYC area, where there are a plethora of large hospitals relatively close to each other and could absorb the closing of a few of them. If University and Crouse were both public hospitals, the recommendation would make a lot more sense, but with University being the type of hospital it is, the recommendation leaves us wondering just how the state thinks New York will be training physicians in the future. You'd never see any of these types of recommendations if we were talking about the legal profession instead of healthcare.

1:34 PM  

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