The Knucklehead of the Day award
When it comes to flying in style, don't think Oprah has one up on UPMC.
Doctors and administrators at the Oakland health giant are globetrotting to UPMC's international hospitals in the same type of plane owned by the talk-show queen.
The luxury jet -- a Bombardier Global Express -- retails for $30 million to $50 million and also is favored by Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates and Celine Dion.
Officials at nonprofit UPMC began leasing the aircraft last month.
It is the second plane leased by UPMC, where a spokesman said it is needed because it "can carry more people and avoid refueling."
The jets are being used to take staff to UPMC operations in four countries outside the United States -- a high-profile hospital in Italy, cancer centers in Ireland and England, and an emergency care center in Qatar.
Those programs pay for the jets, UPMC spokesman Frank Raczkiewicz wrote in an e-mail.
"Ultimately (the new jet) will replace the current plane unless increasing international demand requires two," Raczkiewicz wrote.
UPMC, which last year posted almost $6 billion in revenues, would not say how much it pays to rent the aircraft, but several Web sites advertise monthly leases for about $280,000.
That's the cost of about 325 roundtrip tickets at $860 each to Dublin or 186 roundtrip tickets at $1,500 each to Sicily.
Traveling to Qatar in the Middle East? The lease's cost is the equivalent of traveling there 155 times a month, based on a $1,800 roundtrip ticket on a commercial airline.
This is a non-profit medical center. I don't see spending 3 million a year on this aircraft as a good use of money. I'm a cancer survivor, and the money should be going to treating patients. Not making administrators comfortable.
For misspending money that should be spent on patients, The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is today's Knucklehead of the Day.
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