Physician voices concern over VDMC?changes

The Van Diest Medical Center board of trustees Tuesday night heard from a local physician who voiced his concerns with what he termed as “dramatic changes in hospital administration and management style.”

Dr. Subhash Sahai of Webster City Medical Clinic, gave a copy his statement to the board members and also read the document aloud to those present. Even though Sahai was not listed on the agenda, he was granted permission to read his statement.

Sahai said he was speaking from his own point of view and not in his capacity as Chief of Staff for the hospital.

“The Webster City Medical Clinic physicians have collectively served Hamilton County Hospital/Van Diest Medical Center for over 75 years. We believe that this has been a mutually beneficial relationship for us and the hospital,” he said. “Most importantly, this relationship has allowed us to provide high quality care to our patients using hospital services.”

Sahai stated that he felt the relationship had “deteriorated” over several months. He specifically criticized the discontinued use of IV cardiac medications, procedures which he said had been performed “successfully for many years.” He said the then acting chief executive officer Bob Mason, who was later hired on a permanent basis, had made the decision and presented it to hospital personnel “without prior consultation with medical staff.” He added that the treating physicians had no knowledge of the decision until treatment was denied by the staff.

Board of Trustees Chairman Carroll Ose said after the meeting that the board had responded to Sahai’s concerns about the IV cardiac treatments and that staff was working to build special care unit at VDMC.

“That’s on track to open June 30 and there have been regular updates given to the medical staff,” Ose said. He added a timeline for the project was presented last fall, which outlined all of the steps required to get the unit up and running. Updates were also presented at several trustee meetings.

Sahai said in his letter that that a temporary arrangement in the meantime never materialized.

Sahai also cited concerns about the possible construction of a medical office building near the hospital.

“We are concerned about the financial viability of the hospital,” the physician said. Later in the meeting, the board voted to move ahead with a feasibility study which would look at the possible opening of a medical office building near the hospital.

In his letter, Sahai went on to say the “new management seems determined to transfer as many services to Mercy (Network)?as it can without prior communication with or prior approval of the medical staff or the board of trustees.”

Ose denied that the medical staff had been left out of the loop on decisions and have been part of the discussion.

The board approved a new management agreement with Mercy Network last fall which calls for the CEO?to be an employee of Mercy. At that time, former CEO?Palmer Schneider declined to continue on in the position, and Mason was brought on board as the acting CEO.

At the close of the meeting, Ose made the following comment:

“Everybody here should be well aware of this. It wasn’t our choice to be dropped down to four (board)?members instead of seven. We’re going to try to do our due diligence to get people in place to make sound and good decisions for the hospital, community and county.”

The board has experienced some turmoil in recent weeks as three board members – Don Bottorff, John Hemingway and Stephen Mourlam – resigned following the CEO?interview process and the hiring of Mason. Board members Myra Maxon and Henry Witt are serving as the nominating committee that will seek out potential new board members. Witt said any interested parties should call Mason or Lori Foster at the hospital, 832-9400.

The new board members will be appointed to serve until the next general election.

In other business, Mason reported that the agreement with the Dayton Clinic was finalized.

“We have finalized our agreement between the owner of the clinic and Van Diest Medical Center. It was reviewed by the executive committee,”?he said. “

Dayton Mayor Richard Travis, who was present at the meeting, said “We are all anxious and ready to go.”

Mason said the agreement was reviewed by the hospital’s legal counsel and also by the Dayton city attorney.

Consulting medical staff privileges were approved for Kyle R. Versteeg II, M.D., a board certified plastic surgeon and wound specialist, and for Matthew C. Biggerstaff, D.O., certified in anesthesiology and pain management. Privileges were also granted to Andrew Obamwonyi, M.D., and occupational medicine and ER?physician; and Mark Miner, D.O., a contract ER?physician.