Thursday, April 28, 2011


Because of several management issues, I find it almost impossible to do my job and fulfill my responsibilities in caring for patients. I am horrified at the lack of professionalism in this Hospital when it comes to human resources and administration. How can specialized, well educated, dedicated employees work under the direction of people who don’t know how to communicate well, problem solve, or support their staff in a respectful and truthful way.

Personally, I thought I was hired to deliver the finest care to patients, their families, and help facilitate support and assistance post discharge. The patients I work with are specifically in tremendous need of staff who can communicate, problem solve, with respect and care. I can easily provide these services when the environment is conducive. It is an uphill struggle to work well when superiors are damaging morale by; intimidating, harassing, and retaliating.

There are issues that are destructive to staff morale and hinder patient care; in this case we are told to work it out with our supervisors (with whom we have the problem with). The next resort (even though our supervisors warned us not to go above them) is going to Human Resources which is sadly another brick wall. The person in charge is terribly inadequate and unable to handle the magnitude of the issues presented. When staff is unsupported and complaints are ignored, it is frustrating to continue taking grievances into that department. In my experience, this is when policies suddenly change (only to support their position), or they resort to lying (to make it seem like you are the problem). Or make it impossible to meet the terms of their unexpected, spontaneously revised demands, in an effort to squeeze out and sanction resignation (of the highly qualified, extremely competent employee). I’ve witnessed this right before my eyes. This is crazy making at least.

Employees are terrified of losing their job, so they remain silent, watching but unable to speak out for fear contingent paychecks could be compromised. These individuals have families who depend on this income. So it continues…on and on….

HMNMH Employee name was verified but withheld by
request to protect the individual from retaliation!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guest Commentary: On the frontline at Henry Mayo

Being a patient or visitor in a hospital is an emotionally gripping experience sometimes leaving an indelible imprint on our mind. Walking through the halls of Henry Mayo Hospital, one sees families leaping in joy for their newborn and the sadness of their grandparent dying. It is a holy place wrapped with fear of an unknown diagnosis and newly created technologic quagmire of computers and HIPAA legalese. Some only notice the antiseptic buildings and hallways, but inpatients sense greater detail of the daily ongoing life in a hospital.

As a patient, you are reliant on the caregivers around you. When this care is seamless, traversing illness as they work toward a diagnosis is made easier even when not feeling well.

On the frontline are nurses and ancillary caregivers, as well as primary care physicians known as “attendings” who act as quarterbacks interacting among staff, specialists, family, and Administrators. I have been an attending physician at Henry Mayo Hospital for 23 years and know these relationships are integral to total patient care.

In this effort, I must also work with ward clerks, dietary, physical and occupational therapy, respiratory, housekeeping, transportation, discharge planning, and the various departments of lab, radiology, and surgery. Coordinating the “team” allows inpatients to be nurtured back to health and return home, get back to work, and regain their quality of life. Doctors accept this challenge and fight a battle to bring good healthcare to our community.

There is an analogy with this challenge in a war setting. Last week, I enjoyed lunch near the hospital on The Alamo patio with two Vietnam veteran friends, Bill Reynolds and John Cocco, M.D. I never served in our military, although there are some that might want you to believe I am a veteran of The Alamo...indeed I am! But through Bill and John’s heroic efforts, I had the opportunity to complete my medical training to serve on a different front.

Relishing the peaceful mood and serenity of the day, I listened to their long-gone and far-off days of being soldiers and the highs and lows of their exploits and experiences. Specifically they explained, whether it be arms, armor, munitions, food, or back up, they never lacked supplies. They were proud to serve and happy to return home, and as they shook hands and parted, from their lips echoed “I’ve got your back”.

Their stories of military organization, though, reminded me of how critically important a hospital must run...again, seamless. Our frontline soldiers, Bill and John, both told me how responsive their military administrators were to their needs. At our hospital, this does not happen, and that is why I believe our state and national survey results suffer. Not being responsive has brought with it problems.

We have a new ICU and Emergency Room with state-of-the-art equipment where our patients get outstanding care. Once an inpatient leaves these areas though, it is a different story.

Nurses are especially effected because should tools or supplies not be provided for patient care, they risk losing their hard-earned license. Their complaints, especially of “team nursing”, have settled on deaf ears. Additionally, because of “tightening of the belt”, many services have diminished (housekeeping, dietary, respiratory, physical and occupational therapy) which directly effects the ability to bring our patients back to health.

In war, you worry about dying. At Henry Mayo, you fear loss of your job. This attitude comes from the upper levels of Administration as the licensing of intimidation filters down to lower levels of patient care. Healthcare professionals commit to “saving lives”, “helping others”, and “making a difference”, but sadly many would prefer working at other hospitals if not for the close proximity of Henry Mayo.

Administrators and Board members will quickly jump to say I’m wrong. But in those 23 years I have been at Henry Mayo Hospital, other than physician Board members, I have NEVER seen a Board member on the medical floors! Only rarely do I see Administrators. How can observations by professional frontline caregivers like me be trumped by the Board or Administration?

There is a war on the home front being fought by your physicians for better patient care. Unbeknownst to the community, donated dollars are being spent by the hospital to overwhelm physicians using multiple lobbyists, lawyers, and public relations people. Their propaganda depicts doctors as the enemy, claiming our unwillingness to negotiate, fake outrage that Administrators are the victims, and patient “length of stay” is reflective of poor physician care.

In reality, the Administration and the Board have been the aggressor suspending and marginalizing doctors through “Resolutions”, claiming election fraud, using ‘secret files’ blocking re-appointments, and false “corrective action” and Code of Conduct violations. They need to check for their image in the mirror!

The public needs to ask for a forensic accounting of spent monies at our community hospital. Let them prove to us “tightening of the belt” squeezing nursing, ancillary care, and supplies are being used wisely for patient care, and not going into the pockets of possibly conflicted Board members. Is there a private agenda behind the cloak of their mission statement?

I was told by a Board member to stop whistleblowing and not wave hospital dirty laundry in the public eye as it gives them a bad name. If the laundry were clean, there would be no need for whistleblowing.

I salute all physicians, nurses, and other ancillary caregivers for their common humanity and effort to bring healthcare to this community. Hopefully, the reason for working at our hospital will one day not simply be because of proximity. We are fighting a war for better patient care and promise Santa Clarita, “we have your back!”

Gene Dorio, M.D.- Guest Commentary

Gene Dorio, M.D., is a local physician. His commentary represents his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with including the Medical Executive Committee and Medical Staff of Henry Mayo Hospital, or those of the West Ranch Beacon.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Guest Commentary: Forefathers, Foresight, and Insight

A letter dated March 24, 2011, from HMNMH President & CEO Roger Seaver to the Medical Executive Committee (MEC) asked for “corrective action” against a “disruptive” physician; me. The release of this confidential letter to the West Ranch Beacon (WRB) from someone in the Administration mirrors the clandestine individual known as “Deep Throat” during the Watergate affair. Now Santa Clarita has Mayogate with their own colluding “Deep Ear, Nose, and Throat”! All kidding aside, the MEC has waved confidentiality allowing me to openly discuss this letter.

The accusations were twofold: I breeched confidentiality of Dr. John Cocco in one of my WRB articles, and as Treasurer of the Medical Staff, I have not performed the duties of the office. Both are incorrect as Dr. Cocco read and approved my article before posting, and I have yet to receive any written queries concerning financial information from the Medical Staff.

This is clearly an Administration attempt to thwart free speech affecting my ability to accurately report healthcare problems at our community hospital through the WRB. Our Forefathers would be appalled, and I will continue to act as a whistleblower to protect patient care.

Reiterating the understanding where “balance of power” at Henry Mayo is amongst the MEC, Board of Directors, and Administration, Roger Seaver and the Board are trying to overpower physicians and take over the MEC by any means possible.

In the 23 years I have been on Medical Staff, there have been no letters like this from any CEO. But since January, there have been three: to the Chief of Staff, Secretary, and Treasurer. All accuse us of being “disruptive” physicians. The Administration was unsuccessful swaying the election of MEC members in December, so now they have resorted to making false claims and accusations in removing us from office, and even from the Medical Staff. Who will be next?

The Santa Clarita Valley must understand this critically important reality: The MEC’s fight for good patient care is a barrier against the Administration and Board’s poor healthcare decision-making.

Throughout the country, hospital Medical Staffs have been quietly taken over by Administrations, but California law keeps them at bay by recognizing self-governance of physicians. There have been efforts to skirt around this issue by Administrations, and some Medical Staffs in California have fallen because of legal costs.

The foresight 11 years ago to hire legal representation for the Medical Staff allowed maintenance of self-governance. Recently, the hospital Board enacted many “Resolutions”, one of which decreased staff application fees and forced refunds to applicants with the intention to deplete the Medical Staff Treasury.

In this chess match, the Medical Staff increased their annual dues as a stopgap and the Administration has taken issue with this increase. Physicians are fighting to prohibit business people from making medical decisions, but ultimately this depends on access to legal representation.

What is at stake: patient care. The Medical Staff and MEC feel patient care is compromised at our hospital. The Administration and Board are not only attempting to remove experienced and well-trained physicians from the Medical Staff, but also: equipment and supplies are constantly in shortage on the medical floors and ORs; building security and patient safety are often breeched; credentialing of personnel in procedures and newly set-up computers is lacking; inadequate nurse staffing is disguised under “team nursing”; and insufficient operating room capacity and scheduling mentioned in previous postings.

The financially conflicted Board of Directors is looking the other way as they work to crush the MEC, so I implore our elected officials to come forth to ask questions and gain insight about our hospital. Where is Mike Antonovich, Cameron Smyth, Sharon Runner, Tony Strickland, Buck McKeon, and the City Council? The MEC barrier is not impermeable, and our representatives must help shore it up. Who will save those who save you?

When the British called our Forefathers “disruptive” colonists, it did not stop them from fighting back. I proudly stand with my MEC colleagues as “disruptive” physicians for the right of our community hospital to have the patient care “We the People” deserve.

Gene Dorio, M.D.- Guest Commentary

Gene Dorio, M.D., is a local physician. His commentary represents his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of the West Ranch Beacon. You can also see more of Dr. Dorio’s commentaries on Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hosipal at