Monday, September 28, 2009
They're Piling On Carilion Again (and This One Looks Pointless)
I'm still trying to figure out exactly the point of The Roanoke Times' 2/3 of a page look Sunday--without an overall story--at Carilion's finances. Standing alone this easily-available public information looks like an orphan. My wife asked me where the piece "jumped" from. That generally means there is a big story on Page 1 and what she was looking at was a continuation of that story. I told her there was none. Her reaction was very similar to mine: Huh?
If this piece had been juxtaposed with similar information on HCA-Lewis-Gale, it would have made some sense. The lack of anything to compare it to left it almost meaningless and, in fact, appeared to be another in a long series of attempts to embarrass Carilion (though I didn't see anything at all embarrassing in the information that ran; it was the stuff you can find on any public company by Googling it). To my mind, Carilion is one of the best run companies in our region. It has considerable courage and a great deal of vision in its attempts to get costs under control and provide outstanding medicine.
Just about anybody who's dealt with hospitals in the past 30 years or so can point to shortcomings, and Carilion is not immune to that kind of criticism--a fact its executives will discuss at length with you. But this is a non-profit health care organization with an obligation to accept patients who can't afford its care. It does not flinch at that responsibility, even though those acceptances have a troubling impact on the bottom line.
What's annoying the crap out of me lately is what appears to be the intention of wrecking any credibility Carilion has with a series of non-stories meant to harm. Carilion is an essential part of this region's economic vitality and future.
As my partner, Tom Field, pointed out in an e-mail this a.m., the criticisms have included "improper land acquisition; monopolistic practices; price gouging; lack of fire sprinklers; bid rigging; doctor/patient interference; employee dissatisfaction" and more. The evidence in these accusations has been thin--at best--and when you get past the surface, you often find one of those physicians who was let go in the past year at the heart of the complaint. Their howling is tiresome and juvenile. It's time to let it go, boys, and get back to treating your dang patients. Grandstand plays are for clowns.
I'd love to see this attack stop, but I won't bet my first-born male child that it will anytime soon. Seems to not only come with the territory, but to be the territory.