CATHOLIC HEALTHCARE WEST: Signs Deal With Giants
Catholic Healthcare West has entered a new 12-year deal with the San Francisco Giants that is "rais[ing] eyebrows in the medical community." The San Jose Mercury News reports that under the deal, CHW will pay more than $1 million annually for the privilege of handling all of "the Giants' health care needs." In addition to providing care for the players, team employees and stadium personnel, CHW will install a medical clinic open to the public in the Giants' new Pac Bell stadium. CHW and the Giants will also be partners "in a number of community-building efforts." Dr. David Druker, COO of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, which provided care for the team for 25 years and turned down a similar deal in "about three seconds," said, "This all strikes me as pretty remarkable. It's a brave new world of health care out there." The Mercury News reports that CHW, which has suffered from "declining revenues," is getting into sports medicine because it is "one of the few areas of medicine that is not dominated by" HMOs. The health care system hopes that "weekend warriors" who get injured will "want to go to the same doctors who treat the pros." Wade Rose, vice president of external affairs for the system, said that what attracted it to the deal was the fact "that the Giants are much more than entertainment -- they are a community asset." For its part, the Giants needed the money to help defray costs associated with its new stadium, the Mercury News reports.
Palo Alto's Druker said that in addition to the costs associated with the deal, another reason his system turned down the arrangement was because of the "marketing aspects" associated with it. He said, "I don't think health care is something you can market the same way you do soft drinks or credit cards. The perception that you are paying athletes to take care of them is also troubling." Dr. Doug Brown, president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, commented, "As long as safeguards are in place to protect the doctor-player relationship, the mere existence of these kinds of relationships is not hazardous. However, we all recognize that the possibility for hazards exist." The Mercury News notes that the arrangement allows players to seek second opinions or specialists outside of the CHW system (Hubner, 10/31).