Hospitals cater to wealthy patients despite safety net mission

Despite their mission as nonprofit or safety net organizations, more hospitals are offering deluxe accommodations to attract wealthy patients who are willing to pay more, reported The New York Times.

Consider teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, which offers $2,400 suites and other luxury amenities such as chefs and butlers to cater to affluent patient needs.

"It's not just competing on medical grounds and specialties, but competing for customers who can go just about anywhere," Helen K. Cohen, a specialist in health facilities at the international architectural firm HOK, which renovated NewYork-Presbyterian's elite units, told the Times.

Yet, hospitals are focusing on extravagant amenities and VIP patients while fighting federal reimbursement cuts and acknowledging their responsibility as nonprofit academic institutions that serve as safety nets for poor patients, noted the Times.

"Today, [hospitals] pride themselves on attracting private patients, and on the other hand ask for our tax dollars based upon their older charitable mission," said David Rosner, a professor of public health and history at Columbia University. "There's a conflict there at times."

For instance, below penthouse suites and luxury wings, most of the regular hospital rooms in New York are filled to double-occupancy, according to the article. One patient's relative compared the "mouth-watering" menu for NewYork-Presbyterian VIP patients with the "inedible food" for patients on the second floor.

Nevertheless, NewYork-Presbyterian maintains it provides a singular standard of high-quality care to every patient, the hospital said in a statement to the Times.

To learn more:
- read the New York Times article