The case for capitalism

If you ever doubted whether there was a role for entrepreneurial behavior in the business of health care, read the Wall Street Journal’s account of HCA’s evacuation of its Tulane University Hospital (Planning and Private Resources At the Hospital Giant HCA Made Rescue Operation Possible).

After last year’s bad hurricane season in Florida, HCA held a planning summit to be prepared. Among the issues that were identified and addressed:

  • The need for satellite phones in case other systems fail
  • The need to store emergency supplies close to hospitals, because roads can be knocked out
  • The need for additional generators to cool equipment, which is especially important because hurricanes occur in the summer

Once the storm struck, HCA quickly decided to lease 20 helicopters and set up a ham radio air traffic control system. The combination of advanced planning and decisiveness once the crisis struck allowed HCA to get everyone out and even to help evacuate some of the people at Charity Hospital across the street. In contrast, public Charity Hospital got no help from the government and the result was terrible.

Of course, given the incompetence that’s been revealed at FEMA in the past week, starting with the appointment of a leader who’s main qualification is personal friendship with the administration, another title of this post could be The case against cronyism.

September 7, 2005

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