Monday, November 22, 1999

At 150, Jewish must face tight days

Fund-raiser marks hospital anniversary

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Jewish Hospital marked its 150th anniversary Sunday with a gala celebrating both the hospital's history and its future.

        The fete at downtown's Hyatt Regency hotel raised more than $750,000 for equipment such as a mammography machine and bone density scanner.

        The celebration — and the money — comes at a time when Tristate hospitals are feeling the pinch of low reimbursement rates from health plans. Last week, Bethesda Oak Hospital announced it will close its doors March 31.

        As they sipped wine and awaited an after-dinner performance by singer Paul Anka, physicians, administrators and fund-raisers from Jewish talked about the ways the hospital has responded to changes and challenges.

        Founded during Cincinnati's cholera epidemic, the facility is the oldest Jewish hospital in the nation, serving more than 150,000 people a year.

        “This is the way the Jewish community reaches out to the entire community,” said Senior Vice President Aurora Lambert.

        The past few years have brought changes. In 1997, Jewish closed its Avondale facility and moved to a smaller location in Kenwood. In October, the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati announced it would close Jewish's maternity unit.

        Gary Heiman, chairman of Jewish Hospital's board of directors, said he sees the change as an opportunity.

        “Jewish, like all hospitals in Cincinnati, has looked at the care it provides and undertaken to provide that care in the most efficient and effective way possible,” he said. “While there's always work to do, I think Jewish is becoming a model for what health care needs to look like in the next millennium.”

        Money raised at the gala will help buy equipment for Jewish Hospital's emergency room and cardiovascular program, in addition to the mammography machine and bone density scanner.

        The new mammography equipment will shorten the amount of time women will have to wait for a mammogram, Ms. Lambert said. And the bone density scanner will save patients a trip to Jewish's ambulatory surgery center in Evendale.

        The need for Sunday's fund-raiser is another sign of tight times faced by local hospitals, said Ronna Willis, co-chairwoman of the event and a member of Jewish Hospital's Auxiliary board of directors.

        “One of the reasons we have to do fund raising is because of cuts in managed care,” she said. “This iswhy we took on the task of raising the money to buy the equipment the hospital needed so desperately.”


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