To the editor: Springfield Hospital needs change at the top

Springfield Hospital is going through some tough times and the staff and public are worried. At a recent Springfield Hospital board meeting, members opened some of their time to public comments.

This letter is in response to that meeting and to Tim Ford and George Lamb’s letter that appeared in the Eagle Times.

Tim Ford was hired in 2013. After five years as CEO, we are having a financial crisis.

Not one person who spoke had anything positive to say about the current administration.

Those who spoke included doctors, nurses, PAs, citizens and our legislator. We also had an excellent summary from one of our selectman.

There was no discussion after everyone spoke so we remain in the dark concerning the board’s impressions, nor have we heard how the board  intends to keep the public informed. Some specific remedies from the board would be reassuring.

From the letter that appeared on Nov. 15 and signed by George Lamb and Tim Ford we found this statement regarding the change in ER providers:  “This change allows us to offer 24/7 board-certified physician coverage.” But it doesn’t say what they are board certified in vs the current staff of PAs that have extensive ER training. Also Dr. Marasa is a board certified ER physician.

This “24/7 coverage” is in conflict with a recent hospital memo: “MD/DO Onsite Presence Disclosure Notice” effective Nov. 5 2018:

“Pursuant to the Center of Medicare and Medicaid’s Condition of Participation (42 CFR 489.20 ( w)  Springfield Hospital, Inc. is required to make the following disclosure to patients at the beginning of a planned or unplanned inpatient stay.

While you are a patient at Springfield Hospital and/or the Windham Center for Psychiatric Care there may be times during your stay when there is not a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) physically present.  Springfield Hospital is staffed by associate providers such as Nurse Practitioners and/or Physician Assistants during certain time period.

Both locations will always have a Doctor of Medicine or a Doctor of Osteopathy on-call.  These providers will always be available to report to each site if/when needed.”

Regarding nursing shortages – the attrition rate is unprecedented. It’s usually better and more cost effective to work with the people you’ve already hired than to recruit someone to fill a position. It seems to be a concept that has eluded the current administration both in the hospital and in the doctors offices.

It is true that we are in difficult times for hospitals but not all Vermont hospitals are doing badly

In addition, we have heard that the hospital is moving forward with a new electronic medical record that is VERY expensive and requires that the hospital have significant cash reserves at the startup. How is that even possible?

In our 42 years in Springfield, there has never been so much concern expressed by so many people about the hospital’s survivability.

Our Selectman Peter MacGillivray said,  “A hospital can do well with a strong CEO and a weak board but will not fair well with a weak CEO and a strong board.”

It’s been five years and the last two, as well as the current year, look like we’re losing ground. It’s time for a change.

John and Corky Bond

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