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Lobbying Groups Continue To Strengthen

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lobbying-groupsFortune magazine’s most recent ranking of the power of Washington lobbying groups shows that the American Hospital Association is getting noticed by the inside-the-Beltway elite.

The AHA vaulted from No. 31 to No. 13, right behind the American Medical Association, in the time since Fortune conducted its last ranking in 1999.

Since then, of course, the AHA has been part of a broad coalition of groups including this one that has pressed to reverse Medicare and Medicaid spending caps enacted under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, to the tune of $50 billion in projected new spending for all providers from 2000 to 2005. That surely must have gotten the attention of the 397 public officials, lobbyists and trade association executives who responded to the survey that was used to develop the list.

The AMA moved up one notch during that time. The only other health-related group to make the top 25 was the Health Insurance Association of America, which ranked No. 19, up from No. 25 in 1999.

To make the list, lobbying groups had to be ranked in the top 50 the last three times it was produced, have combined political contributions of $1 million or more in 2000, or political expenditures of $2 million or more in 2000.

The National Rifle Association topped the list at No. 1, pushing the American Association of Retired Persons down to No. 2.

The million-dollar gift. Searching for the perfect gift for a loved one in these times of severe nursing shortages? Why not consider an endowed chair?

Richard Fleming surprised his wife, Peggy Fleming, with just that-a $1.5 million endowed chair in nursing-at two-hospital Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network, Allentown, Pa.

The Peggy Fleming Endowed Chair in Nursing will provide $75,000 annually and involves academic appointments at nearby DeSales University and Cedar Crest College, which offer nursing programs. Lehigh Valley officials say they believe it is the only endowed chair of its kind in the country.

Richard Fleming lured his wife to the surprise announcement early this month on the pretense that she would be participating in the system’s yearly Friends of Nursing celebration as she has since the couple inaugurated the program with a donation 17 years ago. Although not a nurse, Peggy Fleming helped select the award winners every year since. This year, the last in which she will be actively participating, the Friends of Nursing celebration honored 41 nurses, nursing teams and other healthcare professionals.

Richard Fleming is president of Richard Fleming Associates, a management consulting firm in Zionsville, Pa., and chairman and chief executive officer of Polymeright, Fremont, Calif. He served as chairman of the board of directors of what is today called 540-bed Lehigh Valley Hospital from 1978 to 1984. The Flemings have contributed to Lehigh Valley for many years in addition to launching the Friends of Nursing awards program.

“We believe this sends a powerful message to our professional nursing staff of the importance of nursing care to our community and the commitment to nursing excellence at Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network,” says Elliot Sussman, M.D., Lehigh Valley’s president and CEO.

You could have a job. A Web-based job bank may be the high-tech answer to recruitment woes, especially among hard-to-fill jobs such as those on the nursing staff, one Detroit-based health system hopes.

St. John Health System rolled out Recruitsoft early this year, providing easy access on the Internet to virtually every job available in a far-flung network that includes 10 hospitals and 125 outpatient centers in a six-county area around metropolitan Detroit.

Michelle Kosal, St. John’s project leader for the Web-based employment bank, says she knows of only a handful of health systems that contract with a private company like Recruitsoft to coordinate every function necessary to advertise jobs, accept resumes and screen qualifications-all in the convenient milieu of cyberspace.

Healthcare, in general, seems to be somewhat reluctant to jump into these high-tech areas, but people are moving that way,” says Kosal, director of human resources at Detroit’s 222-bed St. John Northeast Community Hospital.

The database features about 1,000 available positions-“everything from management to groundskeeper,” she says. The system, which has about 20,000 employees, also uses traditional advertising to alert potential job seekers to www.stjohn.org, which has registered about 6,000 hits since it became operational.

The site also allows job applicants to establish a candidate profile, triggering an automatic e-mail when a position matching an individual’s interests and qualifications becomes available.

“It’s really simple,” she says. “If you see a specific job, click on it. If you meet the qualifications, attach a resume, and wait for a reply. We reply to every resume or application.”

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