There’s nothing subtle about this summer marketing campaign.
“Your kids won’t always be young,” one ad declares, “but they’ll always be welcome at Massachusetts General Hospital.”
The implication? Think twice before bringing the kids across town to Boston Children’s Hospital — which for the most part cares only for young patients.
MGH is “taking on Children’s” with these radio and print ads, said Nancy Kane, a professor at Harvard’s public health school who studies competition among hospitals. “They have been taking on Children’s since they started.”
MGH opened MassGeneral Hospital for Children in 1999, after Children’s refused to join it in the Partners HealthCare System. At that time, MGH threw $200,000 into ads designed to lure patients from Children’s, which provides continuing care for adults in only a few categories, such as congenital heart disease, cerebral palsy and sports medicine.
Children’s is by far the largest pediatric hospital in eastern Massachusetts. It has 41 percent of the market share for inpatient pediatric care, compared with Partners’ 13 percent, according to a 2012 bond filing by Children’s.
In the filing, the hospital cited competition from MGH and Tufts Medical Center as one reason its pediatric inpatient market share slipped slightly from 2010 to 2012.
Winning over parents is key in an era of intense competition among hospitals: “If you can get them in with their kids, you can get them for everything else,” Kane said.
Children’s wouldn’t comment on the MGH ads.
Richard Averbuch, MGH’s chief marketing officer, said the ads aim to “raise awareness” among parents. Asked if the campaign aims to poach Children’s patients, he declined to answer directly.
Lots of car crashes. Doctors everywhere. And those Boston accents? The nation’s TV watchers are getting used to them.
ABC News producer Terry Wrong offered those reflections after several months filming two real-life TV series: “Boston EMS,” which ended Aug. 22, and “Save My Life: Boston Trauma,” which ended Sunday.
Wrong and his crew filmed in emergency departments and operating rooms at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, MGH and Boston Medical Center. More than 3 million viewers a week watched hospital staff pop grossly dislocated joints back into place and — most notably — reattach a teenager’s arm that was ripped off in a car crash.
Wrong, based in New York, has produced two other shows in Boston. Fifteen years ago viewers complained the Boston accents were hard to understand. No more. Wrong theorized that Ben Affleck films and Martin Scorcese’s “The Departed” have since given the accent more national exposure.
“It’s mainly the dropped R’s. You’ve gotta be prepared for that,” Wrong said.
While many Longwood staff felt honored by the spotlight, some had to ask why trauma docs get all the glory.
Why aren’t there any shows about ... dentists, demanded four — you guessed it — dentists at the Longwood Galleria food court.
“We should have one!” declared Anitha AbdulRahiman, a resident at Harvard School of Dental Medicine. “We would have so much drama” — needles, root canals, laughing gas. Even routine check-ups, she noted, have dramatic tension: “Patients already come in scared of us.”
Staci Davis-Spencer, a clinical secretary at Children’s, said she’d love to see a reality show about medical office staff.
Something like The Real Housewives of New York, she suggested: “The Real Frontline Staff of Longwood.”
Wage-Hike movement targets CNAs
If fast-food workers can earn $15 an hour, why not nurse’s aides?
That’s one argument from a new campaign hitting mailboxes across the Commonwealth Tuesday. Some 55,000 certified nursing assistants, including an estimated 1,800 to 2,500 who work in Longwood, will begin receiving flyers from 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
CNAs tend to patients’ basic needs in hospitals and private settings—bathing, dressing wounds, and monitoring vital signs under the supervision of a nurse. They earn on average $14.50 per hour in Massachusetts, according to the US Department of Labor.
That’s not a living wage, argues the union, which represents 52,000 health care workers across the state, including thousands of CNAs — though none in Longwood. Longwood hospitals declined to disclose their CNAs’ hourly wages.
The flyers invite nursing assistants to ride the momentum of a nationwide SEIU-backed effort to raise workers’ starting wages to $15 per hour. (The Massachusetts minimum wage is $9.)
So far, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles County have boosted minimum wages to $15, and New York state is poised to follow suit for its fast-food workers. In June, 1199 SEIU struck a deal with Governor Charlie Baker to guarantee $15 per hour for 35,000 home health workers.
“CNAs: It’s our turn!” the flyers declare.
‘This Isn’t Longwood!’
State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez turned down Huntington Avenue, away from the hulking hospitals, deeper into the Mission Hill neighborhood he represents. At the corner of Mission Street, he did a double-take.
“See that?” he said.
In crisp metal letters on the facade of a medical building at 800 Huntington, he spotted the word “Longwood.”
“This isn’t Longwood,” he said. “This is Mission Hill!”
He grabbed his Samsung smartphone, as if to make an urgent call, then put it down.
The word “Longwood” appears after “Brigham and Women’s Primary Care Associates,” a primary care clinic that opened in June.
Seeing the word “Longwood” on this stretch of Huntington, outside the boundaries of the medical district, hits a nerve, Sánchez said. To him, it conjures images of Mission Hill houses torn down by the Lahey Clinic 50 years ago, and images of other hospitals and colleges encroaching on the low-income neighborhood where he grew up.
The $75 million complex at 800 Huntington is far better than what neighbors had feared, Sánchez said. The developer, The Beal Cos., initially sought to tear down houses to build a six-story biology lab but scaled it down to a more neighborhood-friendly, three-story outpatient clinic.
At Sánchez’s request, the main tenant, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, opted not to put “Longwood” on the building out of respect for neighbors. But Sánchez didn’t make that same request of the Brigham before it opened its much smaller practice three years later.
Sánchez said he understands “Longwood” is part of the Brigham’s branding. But, he suggested, “it would be nice to see ‘at Mission Hill.’ ”
A hospital spokeswoman declined to comment.
Since Sánchez’s visit, the sign does appear to have changed — by deletion, not addition. It now reads: “Longwoo.”