Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fan support

As part of our partnership with the Boston Red Sox, our staff provides first aid to the patrons at Fenway Park. As the regular season draws to a close (hopefully followed by a long post-season), the team kindly recognized the excellent work of this group in a pre-game ceremony. Here is a small subset of nurses and doctors hamming it up with Red Sox President Larry Lucchino while waiting to go on the field to be introduced to the fans before tonight's game.

Note to BIDMC folks: More pictures and more about this story will be posted tomorrow on our portal, and you can also find some more of my pictures now in Facebook on my profile page.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's a blog post with an interesting perspective on the ethics of these partnerships between hospitals and pro sports franchises, based in turn on a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article that noted that the a local hospital that is the "official" hospital of the NFL's St. Louis Rams doesn't actually provide any care to Rams players.
http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/2008/09/are-you-ready-for-some-football-st.html

I noticed that the fine print on the Red Sox web site's "BIDMC Injury Report" notes that "Physicians at BIDMC do not treat Red Sox players and have no specific knowledge of player conditions."

Is the "official" team hospital designation stretching things a bit if the hospital doesn't actually have any kind of medical relationship with the team members?

(Full disclosure: I'm a Twins fan. As far as I can tell, there is no "official" hospital of the Minnesota Twins.)

Paul Levy said...

Please read my post below on this topic, where I discuss that matter quite fully: http://runningahospital.blogspot.com/2007/03/play-ball.html.

"Official" is a term that comes from a sponsorship agreement. It does not imply treatment of the players. As noted here, though, it does imply exclusive provision of medical services, as needed, to any of the 37,000+ fans for 81+ games each year. Plus, a number of community activities.

I don't believe this raises an ethical issue at all. The relationship is exactly what we say both say it is, and we have made no attempt to exaggerate its components.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the previous post. I must have missed that one.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

In my opinion, fans who see that a hospital is designated as the "official" team hospital will assume that there must be at least sort of medical relationship involved. Professional athletes and team organizations obviously place a high premium on health. The official designation implies a seal of approval that a significant number of fans likely assume is based on the care that at least some Sox players receive.

Pro sports have realized that fans have a hunger for purchasing the exact same equipment that players use on the field or on the court and will pay a premium for those goods. The same applies to the training methods, nutrition, and services that players use.

In this case, I'm afraid that the Red Sox and BIDMC are taking advantage of fans hunger to be like the players. You know darn well that a huge number of fans will assume that "official team hospital" means the team thinks the hospital is best for the players and therefore is a better hospital to go to for their own care.

"Official Red Sox First Aid Provider" would be a lot more accurate designation but would be less valuable because it's less likely that fans would associate the hospital with the presumably high quality care that actual players get.

Anonymous said...

anonymous @ 8:36 really does not get the whole picture.

There is no way the BIDMC would disclose any services rendered to any pro player as a patient just like they would not disclose any patient services individually rendered to any one. Let it be known.....the BIDMC is revered in the Red Sox eyes!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I actually agree that it's a good thing that players aren't obligated to go to BIDMC or any particular hospital for care because of an agreement that their team made with the hospital that was willing to pay the most for the "official" designation.

This NY Times piece that raises some good questions about the ethics of these marketing agreements notes that the players have fought against that sort thing:
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9501E6D8153FF93BA25756C0A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

But nonetheless, many fans are going to assume that the "official team hospital" designation is an endorsement of the quality of care, an endorsement that carries particular weight because everyone knows that a player's livelihood is tied to his health.

Paul Levy has been admirably upfront in criticizing the pharmaceutical industry for its reliance on some questionable advertising practices.

I'm afraid that these sponsorship agreements are dangerously close to the same thing -- a marketing gimmick that trades on fans' respect and admiration for their favorite players and our assumption that players and teams know where to get the best care, but is in reality based on which hospital gives the most cash to its local pro sports franchise.

It's amazing that it is so hard for American patients to get basic information about which hospitals provide the best care, with the fewest errors, with the best nurses, or with the best outcomes. It's a shame that instead people have to attempt to make crucial decisions based on marketing that can be as dubious as these "official team hospital" scams. I don't even want to know how much money is thrown away on these sorts of things.

Anonymous said...

All i know is i get into games for $5 because I work at BIDMC.

Anonymous said...

BIDMC Nurses and Doctors care for Red Sox Nation and for Red Sox players.......just in different ways!