Sunday, December 2, 2012

Elections Aren't Over Yet: HMNMH!

Nationally, we made it through another election. Closer to home though, a different election is evolving which will have a profound effect on healthcare in our community. The physician Medical Staff of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital (HMNMH) will have their annual election of the Medical Executive Committee (MEC) on Wednesday, December 5th. Those elected to serve will help guide and shape the health and well-being of the Santa Clarita Valley.
On the MEC endorsed slate are:

Dr. Cecilia Hann – Deputy Chief of Staff
Dr. David Krieger – Secretary
Dr. Mark Sender – Treasurer
Dr. Maria Sandra Umali – At-Large Representative
Dr. Felix Barte – At-Large Representative

The HMNMH Administration intends on challenging this slate by bringing nominations “from the floor” of those hand-picked doctors who fit their needs. The MEC has allowed me to report through The SCV Beacon the details of this election, with those nominated “from the floor”, and the final results.

Below you will find a letter sent to the Medical Staff concerning the importance of this election. Fortunately, the drama and length of this campaign is much shorter than what we saw nationally.

Physician Medical Staff: Sitting for three-and-one-half hours in the Santa Clarita City Council chambers brought a small break in the controversial hospital Master Plan debate three years ago. Many in the crowd got up to stretch while others hurried to the bathroom. Of course, I took several swigs of Gatorade knowing we were far from concluding this marathon.
As I stood in the aisle speaking with friends, one of the council members came off the dais confronting me and taking aim at my comments (several octaves above their usual tone) claiming I took “kickbacks” from the Transitional Care Unit (TCU), and ending it with I “had no right to be there and give my opinion.” Even during the break, the voice was so loud, Channel 20 re-started their filming trying to capture this verbal assault.

Taken aback, but not backing down, I told this City Councilperson it was my right to voice an opinion, and countered I never received a “kickback”. Fortunately, there were many other vocal community leaders shouting the Councilperson back up to the dais.

More than anything else, I was bothered this person, who I didn’t know, had this browbeating attitude. Bing…the light goes on. In order to sway their opinion, the hospital planted false information to marginalize and neutralize any physician counter-voice to their plan. Logically, with the hospital running the TCU, a “kickback” would have meant Henry Mayo was giving me money! Even with this not being true, false accusations is the way politics and business now seem to operate.

Many times I have alluded to hospital Administration’s attempt to takeover the Medical Staff despite California law assuring our self-governance. “Evidence based” are catch words now relied on by doctors and the public to maintain standards of practice, so I again present part of the hospital “game plan” they follow which might ultimately limit your freedom to give quality patient care:

Physicians at Henry Mayo have systematically been charged with “Code of Conduct”, “disruptive physician”, and “Corrective Action” to control our Medical Staff and eliminate any doctor who might fight against their takeover. The hospital Board of Directors have been told our Medical Staff is the worst behaved in the nation…and they believe it! Behind this is their game plan to dominate the Medical Executive Committee (MEC) and change By-Laws, ultimately personally benefitting financially the hospital Administration, and negatively affecting patient care.

I recognize this problem has stayed under your radar since I’m sure many of you are pre-occupied by the continued jumping through the hoops of red tape and paperwork in order for your practice to economically survive.

Serving the MEC for two years has allowed me to illuminate these problems while fighting to maintain self-governance and quality patient care. Election of next year’s MEC members will be at the Quarterly Staff meeting on Wednesday, December 5th. I wholeheartedly support the “slate” as these physicians will give us our best chance of enduring the relentless hospital Administration onslaught.

Undoubtedly, there will be nominations “from the floor” promoted by the hospital. Most of these doctors will have financial ties with HMNMH and can easily be arm-twisted into voting against our best interest. Please be aware of this potential threat to our medical decision-making, patients, and this community. We must prevent the “kickback” methods used by politics and business to take hold of our Medical Staff.

You have the “right to voice an opinion” through your vote.

Gene Dorio, M.D.- Guest Commentary

Gene Dorio, M.D., is a local physician. His guest 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 SCV Beacon.