Opinion: Porter Medical Center changes raise concerns

To the people of our community,
Porter Medical Center, including its associated practices and services, is in trouble. And it’s not for the reasons you might think.
Most of us agree that an evolving healthcare landscape has necessitated a realignment of Porter’s services, including budget cuts. But how these changes are taking place is tearing apart the fabric of our community and compromising Porter’s medical care. A culture of fear, retaliation and bullying has permeated the ongoing restructuring effort. If the goal is quality care at less cost, it’s not working.
We are losing doctors, nurses and supportive care providers at an alarming rate. How many of us are learning that we no longer have our long-time doctors and nurses? Who will replace them and at what cost? Some practices have been whittled from four or five doctors down to one. Porter administrative leadership is replacing experienced nurses with medical assistants, for whom there’s a lesser standard of education and training. The budget is being hacked at with a blunt instrument, not a surgeon’s scalpel, and the declining quality of medical care will be an inevitable result.
However, budget cuts and layoffs are not the sole reason for this loss in providers. A divisive, oppressive, one-size-fits-all template for cost-cutting and restructuring has been thrust upon the Porter community by a new Senior Administrative Leadership team. Providers are choosing to leave in response to hospital leadership failing to recognize that medical care is ultimately about people. Our providers are NOT so easily replaced, and our community as a whole suffers in their absence; these are not just your doctors and nurses — these are your neighbors, friends, community leaders, youth coaches, mentors and volunteers.
The administration might have chosen a more inclusive path, one that would have helped the hospital’s key stakeholders understand the reasons for the painful changes that were to come. Instead of offering a thoughtful, detailed explanation of the financial difficulties confronting the hospital, the administration simply acted. Rather than engaging frontline service providers in designing solutions that would work both to attain financial targets and maintain critical levels of care, the administration has worked furtively and forcefully to attain cost cuts that appear to the rest of us to be capricious and arbitrary. And when challenged, the repeated refrain of, “If you want a hospital, then do as we say,” just doesn’t cut it.
It’s time for the Porter Medical Center Board of Directors, which holds the ultimate authority for governing the hospital, to take immediate and decisive action. Just as prudent patients seek out second opinions, the community deserves the wisdom that other sets of eyes could bring to Porter’s financial situation. As members of this community who expect the highest level of medical care possible, we seek the following:
• An independent review of the tactics and effectiveness of the Senior Administrative Leadership team; and whether their compensation package is aligned with the long-term success of the hospital.
• A comprehensive community engagement process that includes both care providers and the broader public.
• A thorough explanation of the current budget challenges and a more transparent and open budget process, with public access to the financial information needed to make informed and prudent decisions.
• A clear articulation to ALL stakeholders of a broader strategic vision.
This is OUR hospital. This is our community. We all deserve better.
Al Calzini, Alicia Romero, Alison Zimmer, Amy Graham, Amy Mason, Andy Morter, Angela Cobrin Landis, Ben Balk, Bob Gerlin, Bob Jackman, Brian Mason, Bronwen Kent, Brooke Jette, Bryan Carson, Bryon Emilo, Carl Robinson, Carol Miller, Charlie Biss, Chaz Mraz, Cheryl Cesario, Chris Robbins, Colin McClung, Daniel McIntosh, Darcy Morter, David Kearns, David Disque, David L. Anderson, Deane Rubright, DeeDee Flagg, Dena Greenman, Dick Terk, Don Devost, Donald Glauber, Drey Ward, Elizabeth J. Bartlett, Emily Blistein, Emily Hoyler, Emily Sunderman, Emily Bridges, Dr. François Scarborough Clemmons, Fred Greenman, Gary Margolis, Gene Devlin, Gregor Kent, Gwendolyn Nagy-Benson, Holly Stark, Ilaria Brancoli Busdraghi, Jane Kimble, Janet Greenman, Dr. Janet W. Howard, Ed.D., Jason Newell, Jill Dunn, Joel Miller, John Freidin, Jolene Newton, Judy Wiger-Grohs, Julia Emilo, Julie Barry, Juliet Gerlin, Kathryn Benson, Kathryn Flagg, Laura Wilkinson, Laura Basili, Lilly Devlin, Lisa Condino, Lizbeth Ryan, Lorraine Tobias, Lorri Sperry, Lynn Dunton, Marc Lapin, Marc Cesario, Maria A. Farnsworth, Mariagrazia Weber, Mark Doran, Martha Alexander, Martha Hammond, Marty Lapidus, Mary Martin, Mary Gill, Matt Bonner, Matt Wootten, Matt Mancini, Melissa Hammerle, Merry Lapidus, Michelle Devost, Middlebury Education Association, Molly Robinson, Molly Witters, Monique Bonner, Morgan Devoid, Nadine Canter Barnicle, Natalie Peters, Natasha Causton, Nicole Wilkerson, Paige Pierson, Pat Dunn, Patricia C. Anderson, Patrick Berry, Peg Martin, Peter Jette, Peter M. Weber, Randy Martin, Sara T. Marshall, Sarah Kearns, Scott Hunsdorfer, Scott Barnicle, Sophie Esser Calvi, Susan Parsons, Tamara Chase, Tess Sneeringer, Thomas Howard, Tracey Mancini, Tracy Winters, Valerie Calzini, Victoria Jette, Wendy Lynch, William Amidon andWillow Wheelock

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