Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ex-Time Warner Chief Earns His Carlyle PEU Compensation

Maybe I can understand the White House leaving out the New Orleans hospital with the highest death toll Post Katrina, but CNN's glossing over important details? In their report on the grand jury's failure to charge a doctor with second degree murder, the pioneering 24 hour news network mentioned the LifeCare unit one time. LifeCare Hospitals is a chain of long term acute hospitals. The company was purchased by The Carlyle Group weeks before Katrina struck New Orleans.

What else didn't make the CNN article? LifeCare rented space from Tenet Healthcare, occupying the seventh floor in the Memorial Medical Center building. As a separate hospital organization, LifeCare decides which physicians are qualified to treat their patients and the company is responsible for ensuring some of those providers remain during a disaster. The hospital has a duty to protect patients in a disaster situation, at least until they can get them appropriately transferred to another facility. The news report states LifeCare's nurse executive allowed providers with ill intent access to her patients. This would be a failure of corporate responsibility, not the solo act of several renegade clinicians.

Tenet and LifeCare already divied up the civil liability between them, but the results of the legal settlement are sealed and not available to the public. Doesn't the public have the right to know "who they deemed responsible for what" in the aftermath, especially the relatives of patients who died?

LifeCare's defense is simple, blame the feds. The Carlyle affiliate asserts that as soon as federal emergency teams started evacuations in New Orleans, patients became "wards of the federal government". That same federal government couldn't mention LifeCare, Tenet or Memorial Hospital in its White House Lessons Learned Report.

The news piece focused on medical testimony, which likely was shared with the grand jury. Experts are disappointed they didn't get to make their case in person and are concerned about the result. I know how they feel, as none of my elected leaders have replied to my questions as to why Carlyle's LifeCare got a free pass in the Bush follow up investigation. Fran Townsend didn't have to go far to ask questions as Carlyle's office is just down Pennsylvania Avenue. Maybe, Carlyle's communications expert, former Time Warner Chief Norman Pearlstine was too busy protecting their good name to reply to any concerns. I wonder if he still has any influence at CNN?