Letter to the Editor:

It was with great dismay and a very heavy heart that I read Commissioner Edward’s recent remarks to us via her letter in the Grant County Beat. I want to attempt to express how disjointed, confusing and contradictory it was but first express how disappointing and wrong her complete dismissal of everything good and everyone’s work at our hospital. Not one mention to acknowledge or thank what our administrative team currently in place and our dedicated caregivers do every day. That was perhaps the most glaring omission and pretty unforgivable. Having worked for the hospital for ten years during some of the most difficult times, the disregard is striking and speaks volumes. This is not the voice of a partner but an opponent and calls in to question the ability to make good decisions for this community.

Let’s pull these remarks apart but first, the inference that we don’t’/can’t understand and have to be told that any business, in this case the hospital, "must have more revenue than expenses" is fairly arrogant and insulting, but thanks for the schooling. I guess you think we don’t understand that basic concept. If that is the case, you’re wrong again. To say that there is “no inherent advantage to one or the other of these forms of ownership” with not for profit vs for-profit shows no appreciation for or acknowledgment of the history of this community and of the hospital. To imply that workplace culture is somehow even remotely connected to the IRS is truly baffling and shows a complete lack of understanding of what does shape workplace culture… more head scratching confusion and what she may be trying to say? It’s hard to tell but it makes no sense.

Let’s continue. The first paragraph describes the state statute and process by which the hospital’s Board of Trustees (BOT) is appointed. This has been cussed and discussed during the entire time I worked there and beyond. If you don’t like the way it’s done now, stop talking and start working on changing it, enough complaining and wringing of hands. It would be a much better use of your time and nothing in that arena will change unless those efforts are made.

Regarding the next few paragraphs about our “fears,” the picture painted about LifePoint is so one-sided it’s laughable. How about the phrase “A typical lease and convey contract with LifePoint could include such things as retaining employees and doctors for a designated period of time…”. Really? For a designated period of time. For one of the biggest employers in the county, for a designated period of time? Let’s see how well that would serve our healthcare community and consequently us. This thinking is naïve and disingenuous at best, a phrase previously used but much more appropriate here. How about the next paragraph which includes what is basically described as the Commissioner’s pristine process, only with a “desire to do what’s right..etc." A “lack of transparency” is mentioned as well while the Commissioners continue to conduct business in the dark about the fate of our hospital without regard to how that is perceived. While accusing the BOT of doing this exact thing, it’s a bit of the pot calling the kettle black it seems. Personal agenda? Absolutely!

And, we say thank you for taking the time to yet again feel compelled to school us that a hospital “is a web of complex, small systems that must fit together…” What a profound statement. We probably couldn’t have understood that unless you explained it to us. If the last sentence is true, “…a symptom of how broken many, if not all, of the other systems in the hospital are,” then explain the financial turnaround with finally the right people in the right places to fix what has plagued this hospital in the context of that thought. As far as I know, Edwards has no direct experience with or understanding of what actually happens in a hospital system except what is being fed to her. To pretend that, through this very expensive tax payer-funded exercise with the Juniper Advisory Group (which stands to gain very substantially of the sale that is being promoted here), you understand what goes on in a hospital on a daily basis is ridiculous. I have attended BOT meetings regularly, worked there and in other healthcare systems and have only a glimmer but that glimmer is more informed than these opinions. You are never there unless the optics are good for “working” on a perceived antagonism. You should attend, you might learn something useful, if you listen and engage in some critical thinking.

Then there are the catastrophizing questions at the end, many of which are already being positively addressed as we speak. The nature of these “questions” are disconcerting but not surprising given the blinders firmly in place here and utter disregard for what has occurred in the past year to turn our hospital around as well as the difficult and professional work of our caregivers day in and day out.

Finally, in direct contradiction to many of the accusations and absolutely biased “information” given, we’re asked to have “open minds, open hearts” and dispose of “fears and personal agendas.” Personally, and I speak from the experience of this hospital and heartfelt appreciation for what has to happen for us to sustain it, this Commissioner should examine her own heart, mind, fears and personal agendas for they are surely on display here.

Chris DeBolt, MA
Past Director of GRMC Education and HealthReach Program
Past Grant County Health Council member and Coordinator