20 December 2004


Dr. Cosgrove, who?

Who's he?

I know. You probably haven't heard of him....yet. It's okay.

It was also only recently that I got to know more about this good doctor, and his efforts to make more people aware of temptations around them.

Dr. Toby Cosgrove is the new chief of the Cleveland Clinic, the best heart hospital in the United States. He assumed the post last July. He is the fifth head of the Cleveland Clinic since it was established 83 years ago. Colleagues and friends describe him as a "proven leader" and a "clinical giant."

Recently, he found himself in the limelight when his efforts to rid the Clinic of 'sinful food sources' was met with a tough stance by none other than the King of fat- and sugar-laden foods: McDonald's.

Doctors always talk about how it's important to eat right, exercise, quit smoking and steer clear of drugs.

The new chief of the Cleveland Clinic, home of the nation's top-ranked heart center, thinks the health system has a duty to lead by example.

So, Dr. Toby Cosgrove wants to rid hospitals of pan pizzas and Big Macs, make it easy for employees to exercise, ban smoking and assess whether new-employee drug testing is enough.

Efforts to shut a McDonald's restaurant on the Clinic's main campus have put Cosgrove in the spotlight, but he says that's a small part of a much larger effort.

"A lot of the diseases in America right now are related to how people take care of themselves," said Cosgrove, a heart surgeon. "We're trying to be a model for appropriate behavior."

[Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Before the tiff with McDonald's, he was already able to make Pizza Hut leave Cleveland Clinic without much struggle. At this point, it is only Ronald McDonald's bosses who refuse to leave Cleveland Clinic's premises.

In a Nov. 15 letter to Cosgrove, Martin Ranft, a McDonald's vice president, wrote that the company "has no intention of terminating its lease agreement" with the Clinic.

It is halfway through a 20-year lease. Representatives from both sides met Thursday and agreed to continue discussions.

Cosgrove said in an interview that he "didn't go looking for a fight with McDonald's." Instead, he said, "This is part of trying to provide the very best we can for our employees and patients."

That means taking a good look at all of the food options available throughout the Clinic system --- from the menu selections at the main campus' Au Bon Pain, Subway, Starbucks and cafeteria, which is run by a contractor, to the items sold in vending machines and the hospital gift shop.

The key to the Clinic's menu changes is making sure healthy foods are affordable, said Angela Calman, chief communications officer.

"Healthy food, in general, is pricier," she said. "But we think there are plenty of ways to work with vendors. There's NO REASON why healthy food should be out of reach."

[Cleveland Plain Dealer]

I think Dr. Toby Cosgrove and I have the same wavelength.

If you were to ask me, I would like to have hospitals to have a safe kilometer- or mile-wide fastfood-free environment. Not just heart hospitals, but ALL hospitals.

These fastfood establishments might cry foul and food addicts might say I'm such a killjoy. But that's how it is supposed to be in a world that appreciates what the word "healthy" means, right?

Let's face it. If we can't get past the temptation of the smell and looks of a double cheeseburger, fries, soda, and pizza, then we must move them away to a place where they can't even try to tempt us.

I pray Dr. Cosgrove wins the battle against McDonald's.

When he assumed his post at Cleveland Clinic last July, he said
" I will devote all of my abilities to the success of this organization and the patients it serves. But I will need everyone’s help to keep the Clinic moving forward. As we act as a unit, the possibilities are endless."
I also hope that hospital diectors here in the Philippines and the rest of the world take after the lead he has taken.

Hospitals should be off limits to fastfood sources.

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