Aging in Health_lowres

CEO Carol Solomon directs People's Health Network, the first privately held company in the country to participate in a Medicare advantage plan, Tenet Choices 65.

People's Health Network (PHN) is just what its name implies, a diverse group of physicians and health providers in the Tenet healthcare system that makes it easy and affordable for Medicare patients to receive the expertise and care they desire.

"We are the largest Medicare health plan in our service area," which includes Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines and eastern St. Tammany parishes, says PHN sales and marketing director Tony Gibson. "We have about 30,000 Medicare members, and we have a pharmaceutical benefit, which we've had since the inception of our plan."

Steering the course of the PHN ship is Chief Executive Officer Carol Solomon, who also is vice president and general manager for Tenet Choices Inc. Before moving to Tenet she was a leader at other health-care institutions in Louisiana, including Louisiana State University Medical Center, where she led the development of a pilot managed-care project.

When PHN made Tenet Choices 65 available in 1997, it became the first privately held company to participate as a Medicare advantage plan. Under that plan, patients eligible for Medicare who join Tenet Choices 65 are able to use any of the stipulated Tenet physicians and Tenet-run facilities for a small co-pay but without a monthly fee. The requirement is that they have to qualify for parts A and B of Medicare.

"Our goal is to make ourselves more attractive than traditional Medicare," Gibson says. "We do that through offering benefits [participants] otherwise would not receive through traditional Medicare." Those services include a prescription drug benefit, complimentary access to fitness facilities, dental care and an eye exam and one pair of glasses or contacts per year. For a higher co-pay, patients can bypass their primary care physician and go straight to a specialist when needed without a doctor's referral.

In 2003, PHN also began administering Healthcare Select, which for $60 a month allows members to use healthcare providers within the Tenet system without a co-pay, or they can use doctors who aren't part of the contracted providers and pay 20 percent of the costs.

Gibson says the plans provide the ultimate in care for members because the physicians within the network who provide services all communicate with each other and coordinate treatment for each patient. Unlike a lot of insurance policies that provide coverage to supplement what Medicare covers, PHN's plans don't require medical exams or questionnaires to determine eligibility. If you qualify for Medicare, you can choose one of these plans.

Brewing Up Fun and Flavor

Since opening more than a decade ago, the city's first brewpub, Crescent City Brewhouse (527 Decatur St., 522-0571), has expanded beyond offering beer brewed on site and bar food into a venue that competes with other noted New Orleans restaurants.

"Most people think of brewpubs as bar food: burgers and things," says general manager Phil Gilberti. "This menu has evolved since '91 completely to a place where we're competing with the other great restaurants in the city." He attributes the change to Chef Mark Latino, who has developed a menu based on innovative recipes and fresh local produce, meats and seafood.

"Some of the food he creates are just pictures on the plate," Gilberti says. "The menu items all go great with lagers; they're very smooth to drink, and you're able to drink a little more of them without stuffing the palate with Š all of these tastes some of the heavy beers produce that confuse your taste buds while you're eating."

Crescent City Brewhouse was the first brewpub -- which differs from a microbrewery in the amount of beer produced each year -- to open in New Orleans, a city that at one time had 26 breweries. The less than 1,200 barrels a year produced at Crescent City Brewhouse are made under the expert guidance of founder and German brewmaster Wolfram Koehler. None of the beer produced in the pub is bottled, Gilberti says. It's all held in large dispensing tanks until it is served to customers. House beer creations include Pilsner, Red Stallion, Black Forest, Weiss Beer, and monthly special brews.

In addition to serving house-brewed beers and a full menu of foods, many cooked with beer as an ingredient, Crescent City Brewhouse also offers an annual beer dinner that includes a four-course meal with each course paired with a complementing beer. For added enjoyment, the pub stages live jazz music every night and presents revolving art shows of local works every month. For these, it hosts a promotional party on the first Thursday of every month, including a reception that's open to the public and provides free food and beverages. Situated on historical property that was part of the earliest known city plan in 1722, the pub also rents out spaces for private parties.

The United Stand

United Way this week is opening a new St. Tammany Parish office (325 N. New Hampshire St., Covington, 985-875-3026) and will host an agency fair at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 27, in conjunction with Covington's Columbia Street Block Party. Visitors to the fair, which will be held on the corner of Gibson and Columbia streets, are invited to register for door prizes, enjoy free refreshments and entertainment and learn about the United Way agencies that serve St. Tammany Parish.