2012-08-29 / Editorial

Letter to the Editor

Show The the Money


Last week’s headline “Hospital could cost taxpayers $5.6 M” certainly gives us pause for thought. What also should be of concern, however, is an attempt by the doctors group to leverage financial gain from the struggling Burke Medical Center.

As I understand it, the doctors want the hospital to pay them $500 per day for being on nighttime call during weekdays, plus $50 per hour if they have to actually go to the hospital to see a patient. The proposal could be even more costly to the hospital if, as proposed, it is extended to on-call nighttime coverage for pediatrics and labor and delivery. This amounts to $1,500 per day, plus whatever hourly costs are incurred.

Coming as it does, this proposal shows once again the duplicity of the group of doctors who, because of their failed management of the hospital, nearly caused its financial collapse. Now they appear to have no reluctance to causing additional financial strain by demanding a transfer of hospital money to their own pockets.

The current hospital management company is in a difficult position. It already pays hospitalists for coverage on weekends, in a concession to the local doctors. Now it must “negotiate”weekday call coverage with the same local doctors, or hire hospitalists for that coverage. Either way it is an expensive proposition and counterproductive, coming at a time when hospital leaders are seeking significant taxpayer support.

Lest we forget: With the exception of doctors hired by the hospital, all local doctors make money in their own private practices. A healthy community hospital SHOULD be in the interest of all doctors who practice here. Why it isn’t so –apparently for some doctors - defies reason.

I also understand that some of our local doctors feel unappreciated for what they have done in the past. As a Burke County taxpayer, I would appreciate seeing more selflessness and genuine community spirit from the doctors instead of an obsessive focus on controlling the flow of dollars for personal gain.

Ben Palmer


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