A message from Dr. Alieta Eck--
I spent an hour listening to an expert from NYC address our medical staff this week. The physicians were subdued as this man explained why our hospital needs to join one of the six hospital conglomerates in NJ.
I heard words like market share, economies of scale, leverage, competition, and survival. He and our hospital CEO talked about "high quality care," but did not define the term. NEVER in the entire discussion was "patient" mentioned. The expert even told us that medicine has now become commoditized and we have to get used to it.
Our hospital is branching out-- forming Medi-merge centers and setting up outpatient lab and radiology services. It is acquiring practices in order to be assured that the patients will be funneled to our hospital. It is assumed that they will be hiring physicians from all specialties as no one will be able to make it solo. It is also assumed that the dollars will continue to flow from on high.
One doctor asked how they will handle the decreasing payments by Medicare and Medicaid. They shrugged, not knowing the answer, but assuming that the BIG groups would figure it out. Of course, we all know how successful anyone is at "negotiating" with the government.
ObamaCare is a given in the world of hospital administrators. They have no fight in them and just assume that "father knows best." These bureaucrats will milk our medical system as long as they can and then move on. They do not ultimately care about patients or physicians. They are not like us who have spent a lifetime learning our profession and caring for real people.
We need to keep the message embodied in the original Oath of Hippocrates front and center-- that the private patient-physician relationship is paramount. We must not give up. I envision S-2231, The Volunteer Medical Professional Health Care Act, becoming law in New Jersey. Our charity care plan could be the vehicle to revive the private practice of medicine, as physicians who volunteer will have immediate lowered practice overhead. Plus the patient exposure to doctors who care for them when they are down and out, will be a reminder of who they should see them when they are back on their feet. Volunteers will see us in action as well and turn to us when they need to see someone they can trust.
Hurricane Sandy slowed down our progress as all government offices were effected in one way or another. The legislative calendar was put back, but we have been on the phone with key people and are moving forward.
We are headed into a dark period in medicine, but there will be light at the end of the tunnel. When the government programs seize up and dollars stop flowing, it will be our patients who will ultimately value what we do and be willing to pay for it. All medical care is local.
God bless you all as we head into Thanksgiving.