Saturday, March 7, 2009

Looking Back...Failed Mediation

Peoria Journal Star
July 19, 2003


Failed mediation may break Haitian Hearts -- Talks between OSF, diocese, doctor dissolve

PEORIA - After a failed bargaining session, the OSF Healthcare System and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced Friday that Haitian Hearts has stopped beating, at least in Peoria.

''OSF Healthcare System will no longer participate in the Haitian Hearts program,'' said a written statement from corporate director of marketing and communications James Farrell. ''They (Haitian Hearts supporters) did not accept the offer,'' Farrell said of the bargaining.

''The cardiologists, pediatric intensivists and cardiovascular surgeons'' at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center support this decision, according to the statement.

The diocese also issued a statement Friday saying it ''was unable to successfully facilitate an agreement'' between the hospital and the Haitian Hearts program.'' Spokeswoman Kate Kenny said no diocese officials would comment further.

Haitian Hearts is a program that brings children from Haiti to Peoria for medical treatment, mainly heart surgery, at St. Francis. Nearly 100 children have received surgery at the hospital through the program, but disputes between the two sides over debt and organization spurred the diocese to step in and help negotiate.

Haitian Hearts founder Dr. John Carroll, contacted Friday on his way to Haiti, said he attended Thursday's meeting, the second held since the diocese agreed to get involved six months ago.

After an hour, Monsignor Steven Rohlfs adjourned the meeting and left, Carroll said. The bishop did not attend.

Carroll said hospital officials told Haitian Hearts it must accept the $200,000-a-year grant St. Francis offered, plus a 55 percent discount on costs above that grant, then details of the program would be negotiated further.

''We can't bargain that way. The details could stop the program,'' he said. ''You wouldn't buy a house like this.''

There were many details that needed negotiating, Carroll said, including the hospital's insistence on a ''no cap'' clause, so that if one patient ran up a $1 million hospital bill, the group would be liable for it.

The hospital also wanted its committee to review visa extensions, he said. Visas are granted for only six months, but if a child needs follow-up care, they must be extended.

''I've been pushed to take kids back before they were ready,'' Carroll said.

Dr. William Albers, who served on the committee but left it recently, blamed Carroll for the failure. ''He was unwilling to negotiate. It's too bad. I think people tried, but it didn't work.''

Farrell said the hospital will continue to provide medical care to Haitian patients who came to Peoria in 2002.

Carroll said recently he has a waiting list of 31 patients, mostly children, who need lifesaving surgery. He would like to bring back the five worst cases, but since December, St. Francis has refused to approve any visas for medical care for Haitian Hearts patients.

''Children's lives depend on decisions to be made here,'' in Peoria, he said.

In January, Bishop Daniel Jenky announced the diocese would help Haitian Hearts, and hospital officials said they wanted the program to continue, but they needed to limit charity care to Haitians and wanted better planning for the patients brought in for care.

St. Francis fired Carroll in December 2001 from his job of 21 years as an emergency room physician after a dispute with hospital managers.


My comments today, March 12, 2009:

1. Reading this article again is very painful. After two and one half years of fighting local Haitian Heart battles with OSF and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, we had now reached the lowest of the low. Bishop Jenky had walked away from the Haitian kids too. (He wasn't at the meeting...Monsignor Rohlfs did all the dirty work.)

2. As this article explained, Haitian Hearts kids were going to die now.

3. A very reasonable thing for Bishop Jenky to have done if he had been serious about Haitian Hearts from the beginning, would have been this:

Bishop Jenky should have thanked OSF for all they had done for Haitian kids over the years. He then should have made an announcement that I would be leaving for Haiti to pick up three sick kids accepted by other medical centers that he had contacted. Bishop Jenky definitely had the say-so and knowledge of how medical centers work to get the kids accepted. Three medical centers could have accepted one child apiece. This would have been collaborating for health care which is a Directive of the U.S. Catholic Bishops for Catholic Health Care. The Diocese would not have had to go to Haiti or even spend any money. Haitian Hearts would have done all of the "grunt work" for the Diocese. However, as mentioned before, The Catholic Diocese of Peoria did not want OSF to look bad in any way. So after the Diocese threatened to go to the media AGAINST Haitian Hearts several months before, now they were walking away in a very public way. Instead of becoming more docile, the Diocese should have become proactive for the Haitian kids. The Diocese saw first hand what I was dealing with at OSF. In the Catholic Post, after the Diocese left, the Diocese said there had been good faith by both parties, i.e. OSF and Haitian Hearts. This was untrue. There was not good faith exhibited by OSF or the Diocese of Peoria.

4. One of the Haitian Hearts supporters was so depressed that night after Monsignor Rohlfs closed the meeting, she got into a minor car accident on the way home. At the meeting Monsignor referred to one of may Haitian kids pictures at the meeting as "an advertisement."

5. The Diocese and OSF had been setting a trap for months and now wanted us to accept details without knowing what they were.

6. Joe Piccione, OSF Corporate Ethicist was at the meeting, and was openly aggresive against Haitian Hearts. Jerry McShane, Director of Ethics at OSF, was at the meeting too. He had his golf shoes on and was ready to be done with all of this.

7. Interestingly, OSF Sister Diane was there, and appeared quite upset. She said that Haitian Hearts would be responsible for any bills that went over $200,000 per year. She and Dr. McShane had an open disagreement at the meeting, so it told us that OSF did not have their act together. And the Diocese already said that they would contribute no financial assistance to Haitian Hearts. And if Paul Kramer, et al were keeping the books, and the Haitian kids visas, the kids were doomed.

8. Jim Farrell, OSF's Corporate Director of Marketing and Communications, quote in the paper was a very low blow. He said that the CHOI doctors were in agreement. This statement hurt so much because the CHOI doctors had been and still were so supportive of my Haitian kids. I called Dr. Dale Geiss, the pediatric heart surgeon, the day this article was published, and he denied that he was aware of what was going how could he be supportive of the tragic decision against Haitian kids? I called another doctor who was highly involved in the kids care, and he knew nothing either. I didn't believe Jim Farrell's comments at the time and don't believe them today. It was a public relations move on Jim's part to try and convince the community that even CHOI doctors were in agreement with OSF Administration that it was time for Haitian Hearts to go.

9. Dr. William Albers was NEVER on a Haitian Hearts committee of any type. But OSF attempted to show that Dr. Albers was in agreement with the decision. Dr. Albers said that I failed to negotiate. Nobody negotiated more than I did for the lives of these kids in Haiti and Peoria. I have negotiated for the lives of 150 kids that have made it to the U.S., and I negotiated for months and months before this meeting. Again, this was an attack by OSF using Dr. Albers this time. I was use to it at this point, but it was still hard to accept. Dr. Albers had been my mentor for two decades and he was doing incredible damage. My brother called Dr. Albers after this article appeared and Dr. Albers hung up and would not answer my brother's questions.

10. The day after this terrible meeting I flew from Peoria to Miami and was on my way to Haiti to start another clinic. The Diocese spokesperson Kate Kenny called me in Miami just as I was boarding the plane. She told me it was over...i.e., support for Haitian Hearts from the Diocese of Peoria. This was a terrible feeling and then getting on the plane to fly to Haiti was pretty miserable.

11. At the meeting the night before, my brother asked Monsignor Rohlfs for another meeting. My brother knew that OSF (Sister Diane and Jerry McShane) did not have their facts right, and more time was needed for discussion. Haitian kids lives were at stake. Monsignor Rohlfs said the meeting was going to last only 60 minutes. My brother asked "why only 60 minutes", and Monsignor Rohlfs responded "because I said so." So who was not negotiating---Haitian Hearts or the Catholic Diocese of Peoria?

12. So Haitian Hearts had fought the "good fight". We did negotiate for the lives of kids. And we still are. This was an incredible learning experience for all of us at Haitian Hearts. We saw the ugly side of our Catholic hospital and our Catholic Diocese. The warnings of my friends about the "help" of the Diocese still haunts me today.

No comments: