Your article in The Sun today highlighting the inner wheeling and dealing of some trusted officials is a great opportunity for self-criticism. I am so glad that the mayor said that " I am not perfect ." That is a good sign. The mayor should be commended for acknowledging her error early (“Baltimore Mayor Pugh addresses fallout over 'Healthy Holly' book deal in statement,” Mar. 21).
The problem of self interest on board of directors is not limited to UMMS (“Other Maryland hospitals engage in deals with insiders but sidestep politicians — most of the time,” Mar. 21). It's affecting other medical systems in our city and county and state. Administration of a hospital recommends and chooses the board of directors that most likely will cover up for them and will do what they want them to do. Hospital administrations shower boards of directors with perks to keep them quiet or supportive of administration’s actions. Most of that is hidden in secretive board rooms.
Every physician who tasted "the system" knows that the board of directors rubber stamp administration positions because they have vested interests. The problem of conflict of interest is not limited to the financial gains, like Mayor Pugh and former Sen. Francis X. Kelly Jr., but it affects every physician’s privileges or suspension of privileges. Sham peer reviews are common practice in hospitals in the Baltimore region. They hurt patient care as much, if not more than what the mayor or the senator have done. They compromise quality of care, because they cover up hiring bad physicians or the elimination of good physicians, for the financial gains of hospital administration.
The mentally ill and homeless patient who was thrown out of a Baltimore emergency department on a cold day was a living example. So many hospitals today push our old patients into hospice by coercion or false information. The unfortunate part is, older patients have so little ability to fend for themselves. The ones with no or little family support pay the most price.
For boards of directors to be effective guardians of the quality and integrity of medical care in any Maryland hospital, they must be truly independent and fair. They must not rubber stamp administration decisions. Our Annapolis representatives must change the laws that provide cover to hospital administration. Health care providers must not be businesses like General Motors or Bridgestone. The care of every patient every time must be what we want the care to be for our loved ones. Too many CEOs in the region make this as a slogan and fail to deliver it because of the cold corporate mentality to make more money to pay more for administrators or to expand, only at the expense of patient care.
Dr. Bash Pharoan