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Letter to the Editor: Poor financial decisions led to Porter Medical Center affiliation

I attended the Porter Medical Center “Community-Wide Town Hall Meeting” Monday night and appreciate the time that both medical center president’s spent before the sizable gathering. Unfortunately, I perceived the distinct body language of a proud small fish being swallowed by a very large fish, no matter how well meaning that fish.
Sadly, the Porter Hospital/Medical Center volunteer board of directors inflicted some of this state of affairs on itself (and the community) under James Daily, for instance by first agreeing with the strategy of purchasing most of the surrounding medical practices only to then blame the losses from operating those same medical practices for the need to seek an affiliation with a larger institution. I would not be surprised if well paid consultants were paid very well on both ends of this, all with the approval of the board.
In the vein of “knowledge is power,” I highly suggest that folks sign up for a free account on the Guide Star website (and there might be others) where anyone can gain access to the public IRS Form 990’s that all 501(c) (3) non-profits must file, including Porter. These forms publicly indicate, for instance, during the period that nurses were being laid off and the viability of Porter’s finances truly questioned, the board approved budgets paying staff as much as either side of half-a-million dollars each of the three fiscal years between 2013 and 2015. (2016 is not on the website yet).
One would hope that an organization under financial stress would distribute some of that financial pain across its highly compensated core, not just in the vulnerable staff (which is always known by the layoff notices in this newspaper). Use of these IRS Form 990’s may help answer that question. They may also help explain why health care is so expensive for all of us…
To end, I express my appreciation to Fred Kniffin, M.D. and Porter President, who seems to be trying very hard in a tough situation. And who has certainly turned around the public perception of the institution.
Craig Allen
Bristol

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