Thursday, June 9, 2011

Patient care is in jeopardy at Henry Mayo?

Patient care is in jeopardy at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital (HMNMH) with The Joint Commission (TJC) sanction listing failure to communicate between hospital Administration, Board of Directors, and the physician Medical Executive Committee (MEC).  To rectify this problem, the HMNMH Board of Directors invited the Medical Staff to a meeting on Tuesday, May 31st.

This event was held in the hospital cafeteria which was closed to the public, but many concerned Santa Clarita residents learned of this non-confidential meeting and asked me if they could attend.  As a first and important step in enhancing communication, it seemed best to initially keep the meeting private.  One of my close friends insisted I be his “West Ranch Beacon (WRB) fly on the wall” knowing how important this dialogue is to the community.

The hospital cafeteria is elongated and setup with tables so all could eat dinner and commingle prior to the meeting.  Seated near the podium with me were many members of the MEC.  Opposite us at the front were CEO Roger Seaver, and in between were the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Richard Frankenstein, and new Board member, Dr. Richard Corlin.  Across the back of the cafeteria were other Board members, mostly seated together.

Board Chair Craig Peters opened the discussion with an introduction by each Director.  Statements were made of personal experience heartening their commitment to improve the hospital.  Many of us were inspired and inspirited by their sincere expressions of responsibility.  For this “fly”, it was the calm before the swatter.
Mr. Peters then launched into his version of the Medical Staff “Vote of No Confidence” against the Administration and the Board of Directors, the timeline concerning “2-4-2” mediation, attacks and retaliation including code of conduct, corrective actions, and “resolutions” against Medical Staff members, and removal of the Deputy Chief of Staff as a voting member of the Board.  A chorus of opposition countered from MEC members as to the misrepresentation of facts and information without merit or truth.

As a “fly” on the wall, and a newly elected member of the MEC, my knowledge of some of this information was limited, but my colleagues, with their vast experience and understanding attempted to clarify the incorrectness of what Mr. Peters was stating.  One physicians even exclaimed, “I’m apoplectic with rage at the inaccuracies you are promoting”.

The issue of Board “conflict of interest” did not escape them either but this was marginalized quickly as they follow “due process” keeping them above reproach.  For this “fly”, it was the usual “we haven’t broken the law” retort.

Mr. Peter’s contention any money he may have personally made was magnified in a return donation back to the hospital.  He claimed my reported assertion in the WRB concerning his conflict of interest was incorrect.  Questioning him if there were any falsehoods or non-truths in my articles, he could convey none.

The new Board member, Dr. Richard Corlin, provided an “Outsiders’s Perspective” with his statements concerning violation of Medical Staff By-laws and Rules & amp; Regulations, and “illegal meetings” by the MEC, which were the same propagated six months prior by CEO Roger Seaver. 

At this moment, the “fly” had an epiphany:  The information Dr. Corlin and Mr. Peters were providing came from the same source.  This same information was being provided to Board members, yet physician members of the MEC highly contradicted the factuality of this information.  The source of this information:  Roger Seaver.

Now it was clear:  Non-factual information was being presented to the Board dividing the two sides, creating animosity and the TJC sanctioned lack of communication. Roger Seaver seemed to be deliberately keeping the MEC and Board from communicating!

Now I realized why an annual “retreat” between the MEC and Board is canceled; why an annual Medical Staff/Board dinner dance is canceled; why a Leadership Council between MEC and Board leaders is canceled; why a $350,000 consultant blamed the MEC for communication problems yet never addressed the Administration role; and why I and other MEC members had received an e-mail the day before this meeting:  “Hello, the meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday 5/31/2011 to meet the Board has been canceled and will be rescheduled soon” from an unknown hospital sender.  This last odd and sinister contrivance comes from the depths of malevolence.

Some Board members embrace the opinion of Roger Seaver, and the conflict of interest effect on their vote cannot be discounted.  There is a simple solution for all Board members:   You must renounce any financial ties with the hospital.  If you sit on the Board, you will not have money in your bank, you will not bid on construction contracts, you will not lease any hospital nor G&L property, and you will not have any medical professional contracts for services. 

Can Board members eliminate any appearance of impropriety?  Or will this community continue to think financial dangling of conflict is affecting the Board vote, and ultimately creating an adverse effect on patient care at our hospital?

Recently, the Board of Directors voted to change the hospital “Mission, Vision, & Values”.  Before the change, listed under “Values” was integrity, trust & respect, accountability, teamwork, clinical competence & quality, and compassionate care.  Eliminated now are trust, clinical competence, and compassionate care.  Was this change Freudian?  Even a fly deserves better.

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.