It was disheartening to read the letter titled, “Context for petition to improve health care” submitted by business leaders and “17 concerned physicians.” However, we thank the community members for expressing their concerns, and we hope to work together to improve health care delivery locally.
I was born at Mercy Hospital in 1965 and am proud to work here as an orthopedic surgeon. My father and I have been providing care at Mercy since 1963, and except for three years, there has been a Dr. Furry caring for our community. I, and the physicians signing with me, want nothing more than to see Mercy Hospital succeed, grow and continue to provide excellent care.
Mercy Hospital was founded in 1882 by the Sisters of Mercy “to serve the people who suffer from poverty, sickness and lack of education.” Throughout my time at Mercy, and especially during the pandemic, we have lived this mission. We are all committed to providing care to all patients. Mercy and the employed physician group provided almost $3.9 million of charity care in FY21, by far the largest amount in the area. Our primary care practices take the majority of Medicare/Medicaid for the community. This population accounts for 68% of their payor mix.
We have lost physicians and PAs/NPs because of overwhelm, overwork and a variety of other reasons. We are working to rectify this and have filled and are recruiting for several positions. We are making progress.
Primary care bears this burden disproportionately. National studies have shown it takes 18.6 hours/day to complete the work of PCPs, much of which occurs outside othe visit. Our new Primary Care Medical director is piloting a Team Care model informed by Centers for Excellence to improve patient access and provider/staff satisfaction.
We have provided all the care for the hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the community and much of it from the surrounding communities as part of our mission. Despite our ICU being at near or total capacity during the pandemic, and the remainder of the hospital at near full capacity, we have had only a 1.9% transfer rate from the ER for a higher level of care in FY2021.
The COVID-19 burden and stress has been felt across the community, but our front-line caregivers and support staff members have put the care of these patients above personal and family concerns and have selflessly continued to come to work. Our associates are working overtime as we all face local and national staffing challenges. They have rallied to come together and lifted each other up. They are the heroes who have helped keep the wheels of America moving forward.
During the pandemic, we have had to occasionally postpone nonemergent inpatient, surgeries; but, with the incredible willingness and flexibility of our staff members, we have been able to continue operating as much as possible, while some other facilities have had to shut down elective cases completely. Not doing some of these elective cases comes with its own cost. We understand this and are working hard to minimize these disruptions.
As I walked the hospital this past week, I heard frustration that the letter was based on outdated information and a lack of empathy for our front-line workers. Staff members felt their commitment to the patient and their care was being questioned.
We would like to say thank you to the doctors (employed and non-employed), PAs/NPs, nurses and all the staff as you have all rallied as a community to help weather this storm at great personal expense.
Finally, we want you, the community, to remember we live here, too; we shop the same stores, share the same trails and our kids play and learn in this community together. We want the same level of care for ourselves and our families that the rest of the community expects. We have work to do, and we look forward to building a better future together.
Kim Furry, MD, Medical Director Specialty Care
Sarah Goodpastor, MD, Medical Director Primary Care
Barry Holcomb, MD
Tierney Lake, MD
Paige Mallette, MD
Holly Meunier, MD
Devon Daney, MD
Dennis Wales, MD
Jessie Jameson, MD
Sarah Brown, MD
Andrew Carter, DO
Todd Sheer, MD
Evan Tavakoli, MD
Emmy Unterreiner, NP
Julie MacCluskey, NP
Casey Roberts, PA-C
Wiley McCreedy, PA-C
Trevor Wall, PA-C
Morgan Manulik, PA-C
Mike Gleason, DO
Sylvia Rozek, MD
Clayton LaBaume, PA-C
Amanda Dunaway, NP
Wendy Grant, MD