Monday, November 15, 2010

If Merge Covered Lincoln’s Assassination

I have often said that Merge Healthcare has the very best marketing and PR department in the entire medical imaging marketplace. No one even comes close especially when it deals with handling what is affectionately known in the journalism industry as “spin”.

The most recent third quarter results from Merge speak volumes to this. I’m one of the few who reads the entire story so I was intrigued when I read the headline ”Merge Healthcare Reports Record Sales in the Third Quarter”. Hmmmm, interesting I thought. Then I read the subhead “Revenues grew to $45.2 million in the third quarter, compared with $16.9 million in the third quarter of 2009.” Very interesting…Then I read the rest….until I got to the statement “The company posted a net loss of $5 million in the quarter, compared with a net loss of $936,000 in the same quarter of 2009.” and then look at the rest of the financials. I laughed but wanted to cry. The spin doctors worked their magic. While nothing was hidden and all was very legit, most of the “bad news” was buried deep beneath the marching bands and ticker tape. Fortunately for them most of the investment community never looks far beyond the headlines which allowed the stock to climb almost 29% to over $4.00 per share last week alone.

I got to thinking- how Merge might cover President Lincoln’s Assassination and came up with this, with thanks to Wikipedia:

Sold Out Crowd Enjoys “Our American Cousin”
at Ford’s Theatre

Minor disturbance interrupts an otherwise enjoyable evening
Mrs. Lincoln unhurt in assassination attempt

Washington D.C. April 15, 1865- The Washington elite enjoyed a sold out performance of Tom Taylor’s three-act play “Our American Cousin” which played at Ford’s Theatre last night. The play is a farce whose plot is based on the introduction of an awkward, boorish American to his aristocratic English relatives. It premiered at Laura Keene’s Theatre in New York City on October 15, 1858 and recently moved to the D.C. area. The play concerns the adventures of an American, Asa Trenchard, played by Harry Hawk, who comes to England to claim the family estate.

Numerous socialites from the Washington D.C, area including Major Henry R. Rathbone, his fiancé Clara Harris (daughter of New York Senator Ira Harris), Mary Todd Lincoln and President Lincoln were in attendance. General and Mrs. Grant as well as several other D.C. area power brokers were all slated to appear as well however last minute conflicts pulled each of them away.

The only thing marring an otherwise stellar night was when a Confederate sympathizer, later identified as John Wilkes Booth, interrupted the play halfway through Act III, Scene 2, when Hawk uttered a line that was considered one of the play's funniest:

"Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal — you sockdologizing old man-trap..."

Booth used the laughter to mask the sound of his gunshot and fatally shot President Lincoln in the back of the head. Major Rathbone jumped from his seat and tried to prevent Booth from escaping, but Booth stabbed the Major violently in the arm with a knife. Rathbone quickly recovered and tried to grab Booth as he was preparing to jump from the sill of the box. Booth again stabbed at Rathbone, creating a wound that bled profusely from a deep gash that ran the length of his upper left arm, and then attempted to vault over the rail and down to the stage. His riding spur caught on the Treasury flag decorating the box. Booth jumped on the stage and landed awkwardly on his left foot, fracturing his left fibula just above the ankle. This was later confirmed with a CR image that was processed using a Merge OrthoCR® software. Booth then raised himself up and, holding a knife over his head, yelled, “Sic semper tyrannis” the Virginia state motto, meaning "Thus always to tyrants" and made his escape through the back of the theater to a horse he had left waiting in the alley.

Dr. Charles Leale, a young Army surgeon on liberty for the night and attending the play, made his way through the crowd to the door at the rear of the Presidential box. Leale was joined by second doctor in the audience, Dr. Charles Sabin Taft, who was lifted bodily from the stage over the railing and into the box. Taft and Leale cut away Lincoln's blood-stained collar and opened his shirt, and Leale, feeling around by hand, discovered the bullet hole in the back of the head by the left ear. Leale removed a clot of blood in the wound and Lincoln's breathing improved. Still, Leale knew it made no difference: "His wound is mortal. It is impossible for him to recover". Leale, Taft, and another doctor from the audience, Dr. Albert King quickly consulted and decided that CT scan using Merge’s 3-D Net® CT software was required. The three doctors and some soldiers who had been in the audience carried the President out the front entrance of Ford's and into the outpatient center for a CT scan. Results of the CT scan confirmed the initial diagnosis that President Lincoln was indeed going to die.

The three physicians already in attendance were joined by Surgeon General of the United States Army Dr. Joseph K. Barnes, Dr. Charles Henry Crane, Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott, and Dr. Robert K. Stone. All personally used either Merge’s Fusion® or AMICAS® software. Crane was a Major and Barnes' assistant. Stone was Lincoln's personal physician. Robert Lincoln, who had stayed home, arrived at the hospital after being told of the shooting at about midnight. Tad Lincoln, who had attended Grover's Theater to see Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, was not allowed to join the other physicians. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton came and took charge of the scene. Despite the efforts of physicians using the very best imaging software on the market from Merge nothing more could be done for President Lincoln. At 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln died. He was 56 years old.

Neither Mrs. Lincoln nor Ms Harris were hurt in the attack and the play resumed unabated the following night.

Ticket holders for Friday nights marred performance were given vouchers for a future performance of “Our American Cousin” as well as a coupon for 20% off any future purchase of any of Merge’s top-rated medical imaging software.

#### END ###

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Away in a Manger

Every Christian wants to be just like Jesus but I’ve never really subscribed to that theory. I just wanna be me. After all I was made in His image so why should I try and be something I’m not? Growing up I felt like Him often. Mom every now and then would intersperse my name with His as in “Jesus Christ what have you done now!!” so I felt much closer to Him than most. This week I feel close to Him again as I tried and get a hotel reservation for RSNA and might indeed be like Him as I end up sleeping on Chicago’s version of a manger aka steam grate when I can’t get a hotel for the nights I’ll be at RSNA. It’s not for want, mind you, but just like Jesus it doesn’t look like the cards are in my favor at this point in time.

I tried to make my hotel reservations last week and even picked out my hotel but alas they couldn’t lock in my reservation because I hadn’t gotten my media credentials yet. It’s a fairly simple process but does require some paperwork and documentation and such and frankly with all that’s been going on of late I simply didn’t get to it by Friday’s deadline. My bad. Normally that isn’t a problem but this year it is.

Now some things don’t seem to make a lot of sense here. When I called RSNA housing last Wednesday I was given a list of so many hotels to choose from it amazed me- at least 30 at all price levels. I loved working with the company that has done the RSNA hotel booking for years. Experient is a very professional company and left me thinking I’d be all set if I called back Friday. Today was another story though. I’m told in under 48 hours the RSNA sold out nearly every hotel they had negotiated rates with- an amazing fact if indeed true- but what was left I could get from another company whose name shall remain anonymous to protect the guilty. OK, I think, I’ll play by the rules. No problem. So I call that company and well, let’s just say they have a set that make an elephant’s look tiny by comparison. Most of the hotels they offered me downtown started at around $300- their rack rate if not more- and went up from there. The fact that the prices they quoted me were anywhere from 30-90% higher than the RSNA pre-negotiated rate just one business day earlier was bad enough but their attitude- without saying as much- was pretty much “You are a doctor- you can afford it!!" Um, I’m not and no I can’t. Now I can handle almost anything except attitude- just ask my sons- and let me tell you these people had attitude to the max.

“Do you have anything around $200/night?” I asked. Silence…then a sigh….and then “Let me check…” Fifteen seconds later….”We do have one hotel that is about a mile from downtown- at $160 per night. Do you want it?” I think to myself that’s an extra $5 in cab fare each way but….”Where is it?”” Silence again..”26th Street West” they answer…and then continue ”….about a mile from downtown” I look on the RSNA map. A mile from downtown my ass. It’s a mile southwest of McCormick Place in a neighborhood that made the old Cabrini Towers look like the freaking Taj Mahal. “Um…no thanks…I’ll keep looking”. And so I do.

I have no doubt I’ll find a room but rest assured it won’t be a Days Inn at $310/night. The RSNA is helping as much as they can- they have always been super helpful- and I can always fall back on my clients who book blocks of rooms and almost always have an extra I can steal. Then there is always Priceline,, Chicagochoice, and other sites I can explore as we get much closer to the day too, plus I’m working with the management of a few hotels direct too. While I shouldn’t have to go through this aggravation I accept part of the blame for waiting so long to register. Unfortunately there is but one of me to go around and too much to do between now and RSNA and registering wasn’t a priority. This will be my 28th RSNA and all but the first ten I’ve come in as a member of the press covering PACS for various publications, with the last decade covering it for I don't just do the PACSMan Awards but also feed stories to my counterparts as well. You just don't see that because it's done behind the scenes. The AM crew works as a team at RSNA and I am but one small part of it. I also always strive to maintain some semblance of balance in my life and am not burning the midnight oil every night just because. I always have and always will make time for my sons, myself and others in my life because work, while important, is not the very top of my priority list by any means. Important, yes, but not in my top three…But RSNA is a must, if for no other reason to do the PACSMan Awards that for reasons that escape me everyone seems to look forward to reading and is among the most read AM "stories" each year. Go figure.

So I won’t be at the Ritz this year although I did do that one year and it was pretty awesome- not $475 a night awesome but still pretty cool. I also probably won’t be sharing a steam grate with a Lieutenant Dan in a wheelchair with scraggly hair either but look for me in Chicago… somewhere…sometime beginning Sunday morning. My flight leaves at 5:30 a.m. just so I can get there in time and save on spending yet more money for a room for Saturday night…Just don’t look for me to fill the pockets of the greedy housing agency that has the leftover rooms. I like elephants as much as the next person but….