To the editor:
I am writing a frank letter because frankly, I am tired and upset.
I hope this letter runs just above the colored advertisement that announces the new Grand Junction neurologist will be seeing patients at The Memorial Hospital (TMH) clinic. At best, this is a thoughtless response by TMH administration to the St. Mary’s outreach clinic: “We have a new neurologist, can he see patient’s once/month in Craig at your facility?” “Sure.”
At worst, it’s a calculated affront by TMH administration to recruit patients from competing, local clinics. Either way, hosting a physician who has absolutely no commitment to our community is ill-conceived.
Dennis and I moved to Craig 17 years ago, and have faithfully served you over that time. In this seventeen years, not once has The Memorial Hospital assisted me in promoting my neurology services. Not once have they assisted with private recruitment efforts.
Rather, our community owned, not-for-profit hospital directly competes with the other small clinics.
The TMH Board conducts periodic “strategic planning” for our community. The plan is used to determine which services are needed in our community, so that we, as a community, can direct tax-payer money to meeting those needs.
The strategic plan determines the recommended number of primary care and speciality physicians our community can support.
A town our size generally does not have local neurology services. In fact, the nearest neurology group is in Grand Junction.
There is a neurologist in Aspen, and a travelling neurologist in the Vail area. I am here because Internal Medicine was identified as a need 18 years ago, and Dennis and I liked the community.
For the past 17 years, I have worked in Steamboat, Craig and Meeker. I see patients from Vernal and Roosevelt, Utah, Southern Wyoming, Walden, Granby and Winter Park.
Every strategic plan I have been involved with identifies local need for Family Practice, Internal Medicine, OB/GYN and surgery.
Now, just when we have lost our anesthesiologist, gynecologist, family practice physician, and general surgeon, the TMH has decided to provide clinic space to the new neurologist based in Grand Junction.
This in no way fits into the strategic planning of TMH and our community.
While I am all for capitalism and the forces of competition, I believe TMH is mandated to work for the medical health of our community. This requires support of local physicians, local physical therapy services (not just TMH-based PT services), local oxygen and equipment companies, and in fact, all locals who pay taxes in Moffat County.
TMH should be supportive of local efforts to care for patients. TMH should be supportive of physicians who serve on local boards, who support local non-profits and who help local patients, right here in Craig, CO.
I am insulted, distressed and frankly, fed-up with the lack of support for local physicians from our TMH Board and administration.
I own a building in Craig, CO. I pay taxes in the City of Craig, and Moffat County. I employ seven people at my clinic, and support multiple other businesses with my referrals.
I am medical director for our local nursing home. I demonstrate my commitment to our community daily.
I expect our County-owned and operated hospital to show its commitment to me and the physicians who loyally serve our community. We cannot afford to lose more physicians.
We should not support an administration and Board who do not support us. Please, make your voices heard. Write to the Board and do what you can to support your community.
The longer we let this trend continue, the farther we will all be driving for healthcare.
Pamela Kinder, M.D.