Letter to Editor: We Deserve Better From UMM Shore Regional Health

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The self-dealing scandal involving 9 of 30 UMMS Board members continues to occupy headlines. Both the MD House of Delegates and the MD Senate have unanimously passed legislation to reform the Board, and are awaiting likely approval by Governor Hogan. Comptroller Franchot has asked the state prosecutor to investigate, and blasted the Board’s choice of consulting firm to investigate. To quote him: “The State Prosecutor, thank God, is involved. This independent consulting firm that’s been hired by the system from California, I mean, forgive me, take a look at that consulting companies client list and tell me that that is an independent look at anything.”

Meanwhile, there has been very little public discussion of this on the Eastern Shore, despite the fact that one of the self-dealers on the UMMS Board who resigned within a few days of Mayor Pugh, continues to serve on our local Easton hospital board. Indeed, despite the fact that Mr. John Dillon has received more than $150,000.00 per year from UMMS for “capital campaign and strategic planning” he continues to hold the position of Chairman of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health (SRH) at Easton, a position he has held since 2013.

The merger of our local hospital in 2006 was done in hopes of gaining access to subspecialty care, and to financial resources that would aid us in building a new hospital. Of note, Mr. Dillon was one of the people instrumental in promoting that merger. In the last decade, UMMS has been acquiring hospitals at a rapid rate of speed. As a result, individual hospital visions get a little blurry, and their mission statements more generic. Decisions regarding care locally are no longer decided locally. Remote control of care structuring has often resulted in clinical situations that make it more difficult for healthcare providers to give what they consider optimal care.

The patients of the Eastern Shore deserve better.

The dedicated workers of Shore healthcare facilities deserve better.

We need to challenge the members of the our local Board to ask Mr. Dillon to step down, and, even more so, to focus on strengthening our regional health care delivery processes. We also need to let our legislators know that we expect a truly independent audit of the UMMS board, with any illegal activities reported to the State Attorney General’s office.

Eva M. Smorzaniuk, M.D.
Talbot County

 

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Letters to Editor

  1. To make this scandal worse, it’s being reported that the UMMS board is permitted to operate in secrecy.
    Per state law, its meetings are not subject to the Open Meetings Act and business documents are not subject to public review.
    Why?
    This scandal is only getting larger!
    Baltimore Mayor Pugh’s self-serving shenanigans are only the tip of the iceberg!

  2. Eleanor Altman says

    Thank you, The Spy, for publishing the informative commentary by Dr. Eva Smorzaniuk. Yes, Eastern Shore residents are not learning about this from other local press. Who is afraid of whom and what? and why? This is not how we want our health care system and the state university system to operate?

  3. Karen O'Connor says

    Thank you Dr. Smorzaniuk! Since the story broke about the self-dealers on the UMMS Board there has been radio silence here; it is time to recognize that the emperor has no clothes. While there is a great deal of momentum seeking a legislative and political solution to maintaining inpatient hospital services in Kent County, there has been no mention of the role of the Shore Board, responsible for the governance of UMMS interests here on the Eastern Shore. Who represents Kent County on that Board? Why have they kept such a low profile? Why is the chairman of that Board, Mr. John Dillon, still in the position, after resigning in disgrace from the “Big Board”? It seems to me that the local representatives to the board have a responsibility to the community that is being ignored, both by the Save Our Hospital activists and the local press. I hope Dr. Smorzaniuk’s letter will prompt some active investigation to answer the questions posed here.

    • Margery Elsberg says

      I promise you, Karen, that Save the Hospital’s very existence has been a daily challenge to the polices of Shore CEO/Pres. Ken Kozel, Board Chair John Dillon, and Medical Director William Huffner, M.D. The Chestertown hospital’s inpatient services would have been shuttered long ago if we–and the nearly 5,000 citizens who’ve petitioned, written, called, e-mailed and gone to Annapolis over and over since the Firehouse Meeting on January 10, 2016–hadn’t been fighting this fight. We’ve reflected the community’s disappointments and anger about Shore’s attitude and policies since the Easton-centric three-hospital system was created, but leaving John Dillon in his seat as board chair is the most outrageous non-medical thing Shore has done. It signals to us all–patients, donors, business and non-profit leaders, local government officials and community members–that UM Shore Health’s leadership has neither soul nor conscience.

  4. Margery Elsberg says

    Bravo, Dr. Smorzaniuk. Bravo.

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