According to an article published by the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, Gerard van Grinsven, who was appointed General Manager of the Dearborn Ritz-Carlton in 2002, has put the "wow"back into the hotel. Among other achievements, van Grinsven succeeded in having the hotel ranked number 1 for customer satisfaction among all the prestige chain's properties.
Van Grinsven had world-wide experience in the hospitality industry. He started managing a coffee-shop in a Holiday Inn in Canada. "His expertise in food and beverage ultimately sent him on an incredible global odyssey throughout many of the world’s most acclaimed hotels, including The Mandarin in Jakarta, The Oriental in Bangkok, The Ramada Renaissance in Hong Kong, the Peninsula in Manila and the Hotel Inter-Continental in Berlin."
"Van Grinsven joined The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. in 1994 as executive manager in charge of food and Beverage at The Ritz-Carlton, Seoul, where he led the successful opening of the largest food and beverage operation in the company. Prior to taking the helm at Dearborn he was vice president of food and beverage and vice president of pre-opening operations at the parent company in Atlanta."
At this point, Health Care Renewal readers may begin to think I have started April 1 festivities a bit too early. What does any of this have to do with health care?
Actually, the answer, albeit bizarre, is not hard to find. Yesterday, the Detroit News published an article about plans made by the Henry Ford Health System to open the new Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital in 2008. Who did the system hire to be CEO of the new hospital? It was none other than Gerard van Grinsven.
The Detroit News article noted that "Van Grinsven has no background in the health industry but brings years of experience managing post Ritz-Carlton hotels. Henry Ford believes that makes him the ideal person to run an upscale hospital designed to woo patients with the promise of privacy and wired rooms that overlook a pond and landscaped courtyard." Hospital "amenities will include Internet access in each room, flat-screen televisions and a wireless communication system that will eliminate irksome overhead paging."
However, "several national experts said they had never heard of someone making the jump from a career in hospitality to hospital president." Furthermore, "some critics say pouring money into pools and private suites is only going to lead to an arms race that drives health care costs higher."
I am sure Mr Van Grinsven is an excellent manager in the hospitality industry, and that anyone would enjoy staying at a hotel he runs. However, it is mind-boggling that a hospital would put a hospitality executive with no health care background, no matter how accomplished, in charge of runing a hospital. This seems to be a unique case of the idea that all managers know best about health care, again an attitude that seems to have been generated by Einthoven's call to break up the medical "guild" and turn control of health care over to managers and bureaucrats.
Hospitals and hotels both provide over-night acccomodations and food. That's pretty much where the similarity ends. Few hospital patients book stays in advance. Hospital patients arive at all hours, often very sick, and with unique needs. Sick patients do deserve health care professionals and support staff who really care about them. In my humble opinion, however, sick patients, even if they are well-to-do baby boomers, really are unlikely to care about flat screen televisions and internet access. Most sick patients care about getting better, and having a future to which they may look forward. I wish Mr Van Grinsven luck, which he will need. I just hope by the time this hospital really opens, Mr Van Grinsven has been able to delegate most of his responbilities to people who actually understand health care.
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