Desperate to keep costs down and profits up, a new breed of specialty hospital that focuses on patients without medical needs is becoming more common across the country. So called "Health-Max" hospitals limit admissions to patients with no discernable medical problems. Health-Max hospitals report higher profits than traditional hospitals because they have only a minimal need for advanced technology or specialized skills.
Superior General Hospital of Phoenix, a recently opened Health-Max hospital, is drawing rave reviews from physicians and patients alike. Though lacking an MRI, Cardiac Unit, or maternity ward, the hospital features a four-star cafeteria and a two-thousand title movie rental library. "Our medical staff love the working conditions," said hospital Director Dr. Marty Lawless. "It's very low stress and the patients are much happier than you would find in a typical hospital." Indeed, most patients seemed at ease as they scooted through hospital hallways on their Segways without a wheelchair in sight.
Patient Anne Wilcox said her stay at Superior General was the "best hospital experience" she'd ever had. She was especially pleased with the ballroom dancing lessons. "The fact that I didn't require any medical tests or procedures really gave me a positive attitude about the whole thing," she said. Ms. Wilcox said she happily paid an additional out-of-pocket fee to get a private room with a masseuse.
By Arizona law, Superior General must have an emergency room, but they turn most patients away. "We are not in a position to treat injury or trauma of any kind," said one emergency room doctor, "but aside from that, we have a first-class unit." The nurses proudly point out the comfortable chairs and current magazine selection in the waiting room.
Miami Marine Medical is a Health-Max hospital aboard a large ship that cruises between South Florida and the Bahamas. Miami Marine is probably the only hospital in the United States with a midnight buffet. "We actually do not let extremely obese people on board just in case they overdo it and have a medical emergency at sea," says Director Dr. Shelly Browne. "But if you want an outstanding medical experience that includes free cocktails, this is the place to be."