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Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Cleveland Clinic goes Trotsky on its own wellness guru

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 2:41 PM

Michael%20Roizen.jpg
At the Cleveland Clinic, even famous guys like Michael Roizen are forced to place business concerns ahead of health.
The Cleveland Clinic has a well-earned reputation for refusing to speak to the unwashed masses it purportedly serves. Calling there is like drunk-dialing the Pentagon. Employees are trained never to speak to the media, and instead refer calls to PR drones, who then politely refuse to speak. Now, however, it looks like the Clinic may have met its match in one of its own employees. Dr. Michael Roizen, the Clinic’s wellness guru, is one of the hospital’s biggest names. His RealAge system for improving health and staying young has gained international attention, making him a best-selling author and a frequent guest on Oprah. He’s not about to become a wallflower just because he works for the Kremlin of healthcare… But last week, he made the mistake of calling Governor Ted Strickland stupid for raiding the state’s anti-smoking fund to pay for a new jobs initiative. To Roizen, this was not a wise investment in the long-term health of Ohio’s citizens. "He is robbing all the money out of the tobacco protection fund," he said. "If you want to do something to help, you write the damn governor and tell him he gets more jobs by keeping the money there and cutting down medical costs so we can afford to have jobs in the state." Okay, so no one actually believes medical costs will ever – repeat: ever – get cut. Yet to most of us, this would barely be considered a noteworthy outburst. A guy whose job is to keep people healthy is supposed to yelp about things like this. But the Clinic went ballistic, and tried mightily to distance itself from Roizen’s comments. The bosses wouldn’t even let him talk to Regina Brett, the Plain Dealer’s resident mild-mannered Catholic lady. Which leaves us wondering: Will the Clinic really muzzle its own money-maker? If so, that’s some mighty sweet revenge. -- Lisa Rab

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