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In Response to Dr. Hill's Opinion Piece in July 27, 2017 Record Gazette

By Mark Turner, CEO, San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital | August 2, 2017

Community members and fellow staff members at San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital (SGMH) have asked me why we haven’t publicly responded to the misinformation being spread by EPIC Management, most recently through an opinion piece from Dr. Richard Hill, president of Beaver Medical Group, on July 27, 2017.

My response has been the same to each: when we began negotiations with EPIC a few months ago, we committed to pursuing that agreement, rather than engaging in a public back-and-forth. And when we make a commitment, we stick to it.

However, EPIC has not honored the same commitment to working toward an agreement. Instead, they launched a public campaign against SGMH leadership–at the exact same time that we were trying to engage in mediation. Then, after we agreed in principle to a number of next steps, EPIC immediately tried to change the terms of that agreement–issuing a series of new demands that went significantly beyond the scope of the mediated understanding. When we indicated we needed additional time to respond to the increased demands, they accused us of cancelling the mediation and then terminated our contract with EPIC Health Plan.

Now that EPIC has made it clear that they do not intend to further negotiate our contract in good faith, I can speak freely, and educate our community about the true motivations behind EPIC’s efforts to jeopardize healthcare access in our community.

A hospital is only as good as its staff, and we are fortunate enough to have some of the most talented staff members in the region serving our patients. When EPIC calls into question SGMH’s quality of care, they are attacking a staff that has pledged their lives to caring for the residents of our community, day in and day out. They are also attacking a hospital that is fully accredited by the Center for Improvement in Healthcare Quality (CIHQ), an organization that has the authority to determine that we comply with the requirements to participate as a Medicare provider. Such accreditation is a strong indicator of the quality and safety of our patient care.

EPIC’s accusations about SGMH’s quality are all fluff and no substance. To the extent we receive complaints about patient care, they are fully investigated and, if necessary, action is taken. We can, and do, respond to specific complaints; but we have no recourse to resolve EPIC’s general, unsupported complaints about our “quality.” Rather than providing specific details as to their concerns, EPIC started transferring patients out of the emergency department in January–with no warning and no basis to do so, and without any regard for the patients’ preference. Some patients reported that they were told the price to stay at SGMH would be financial responsibility for the services they were otherwise entitled to receive.

EPIC’s other claims—that our leadership created a toxic and intimidating environment toward Beaver Medical Group physicians—are in direct opposition to the good working relationship we have historically enjoyed with those physicians. Rather than go through the established Medical Staff channels to address any concerns it may have, EPIC has elected to air its grievances in public.

In fact, all of the “complaints” about the hospital’s environment and various historical business decisions SGMH has made are based on EPIC’s belief that its physicians should be treated better than the other local physicians. The primary problem with the business decisions of which it complains is that they did not benefit Beaver Medical Group. The decisions all were made with full transparency. They are all at fair market value. And they all support the hospital’s mission. Those decisions don’t, however, give EPIC or Beaver any extra control of the hospital or its Medical Staff. It is EPIC’s financial motivations and desire for such control that have strained our long-standing, healthy relationship–not the so called “improper” tactics of our staff and leadership.

EPIC’s actions in the first half of this year are highly disappointing. They fired the first shot, insisted on negotiating a treaty, and then ignored the agreed-upon cease-fire. Their actions have made it clear they are not interested in productive negotiations, and never had any intention of working with us. Everything they’ve said about us to sow doubts and create turmoil has been with the end goal of returning more control, and hence more money to their for-profit investors.

While EPIC has been focused on attacking SGMH, we’ve been working on ways to innovate, invest, and attract new talent to improve healthcare in our community. We have a hospital to run, and we’re going to continue to provide the level of care that SGMH has become known for in the area, and that our patients deserve.

We are here for our patients, and will not let EPIC deter us from our mission: to provide safe, high-quality, personalized healthcare services to the thousands of residents that rely on us for their diverse healthcare needs.

I look forward to the day that we can put this issue with EPIC behind us. We have some exciting announcements to make in the coming weeks about our continued efforts to expand access and improve care for our community. We look forward to sharing those with you soon.

 

Sincerely,   Mark Turner  |  CEO

SGMH IS BUILT BY THE COMMUNITY FOR THE COMMUNITY.
SINCE 1951.

TOP WORK PLACES IN 2015 & 2016

What SGMH employees say:

“Community, awareness, collaboration and action for improvement for the welfare of the people in the whole community.”

“I am able to express my thoughts and opinions. ”

“I love being a part of something larger that makes a difference. I love that everyone cares and that you have flexibility when needed. We all work hard and are recognized for doing so.”

“I am encouraged to be the best that I can be.”

“I see a future with SGMH, and I clearly see this hospital growing to meet the needs of the community. ”

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