To the Editor:
Thank you to Terry Cahill, MD, and Ramona Harper for speaking up about the patient care approach that has become the policy of the Fairmont medical center.
Sadly, the state of the community's medical services has been greatly diminished by the policies of the southwest region of Mayo Clinic Health System. At the beginning of 2011, the management of the region was centralized in Mankato and this has been to the great detriment of our community. A token group of four providers from Fairmont are included in the practice governance committee but this committee is clearly dominated and run by Mankato. Indeed, the committee does not make policy; instead the group approves policies created by the administration.
I served on this committee and know directly how decisions affecting Fairmont are made. The Mankato providers and administration controlling the committee have no particular investment in or concern for our community. This lack of concern is evident in the role and response to the departures of so many providers, as well as other policy decisions.
Sixteen physicians have left the Fairmont facility in the last year (Shamsul Hasan MD, Roman Tusinski MD, Matel Teodorescu MD, Alicia Frankowitz MD, Lori Krome MD, Linda Youngren MD, Tawnya Kreilkamp MD, Mark Wolverton MD, Terry Klemek MD, Steve Sumey MD, DuWayne Hansen MD, Julie Von Ohlen, PA, Chuck Hounshell DPM, Rabia Hasan MD, David Krusemark CRNA and me). Some of these individuals have served us for more than 20 years.
In the year prior, John Coniaris MD, Eve Rogers MD, Bill Holmes MD, Shelly Wells DO, Phil Vucuolo MD and Shelly Vucuolo CNP also exited the practice.
The reasons for leaving may be varied, but the response by the region to this exodus is to blame the providers for resisting the "transformation" to the new system. This claim is patently untrue. Local and regional management refuse to acknowledge their failure to maintain an institution that fully serves both the community and the providers. When this many providers leave, can anyone really believe that the institution has no responsiblity?
The loss of personnel also has resulted in a notable narrowing of the services offered here. We no longer have pediatrics, neurology or anesthesiology physicans. Pain-relieving procedures like cervical spine injections and acupuncture are not available. Our ENT services have transformed from a surgeon living in the community to a visiting physican aphysiciantimes a month. Hospice services are now provided by United Hospital District. After an expected retirement, only two family physicians will remain.
When the Mayo Clinic was given - yes, given - the hospital, the promise was made to maintain the facility as a regional health center (as well as keep the FCH Foundation independent). Instead the services and number of providers have been gutted. Sadly, our local hospital board and media have not been appropriately critical of these changes. Fortunately, we have had stalwart leadership of the FCH Foundation that prevented the takeover of those assets. Had the Mayo Clinic purchased the facility on the open market, then absolutely the hospital could be managed in whatever fashion they choose. However, Mayo received this approximately $25 million community asset in exchange for promises - promises that have not been kept.
Mayo Clinic administration in Mankato has decided that despite an older-than-average community, and consequently greater medical needs, Fairmont will receive only the most basic and increasingly impersonal care locally, and must travel to Mankato or Rochester for anything else. This is their concept of transformation.
Let me emphasize that this perspective is my own and not necessarily that of any of the individuals named above.
Lael M. Luedtke, MD
formerly of Fairmont