Saturday, March 21, 2009

Looking Back...Peoria's Medical Mafia

Peoria Journal Star
July 27, 2004

Peoria's medical mafia limiting emergency care

Re. July 16 editorial, "Send corrupt health facilities planning board to morgue":
The Journal Star states that in Illinois, "Any board with this much authority over this much money becomes a trough of corruption." Truer words could not have been written.

For 30 years lobbyists, attorneys and politically connected people have influenced the decisions made by this nine-member board regarding construction of new hospitals and expansion of existing ones in Illinois.

Unfortunately, similar conflicts of interest and cronyism are currently occurring in Peoria. The stakes are very high here with lives and money on the line.

In Peoria we have one paramedic transport company, Advanced Medical Transport (AMT). Its medical director is Dr. George Hevesy, who happens to be the medical director of OSF-St. Francis' emergency department. Dr. Hevesy is salaried by both OSF-St. Francis and AMT. OSF is the main supporter of AMT and is also the base station for all emergency medical services in central Illinois.

The AMT board of directors, composed of prominent Peorians, has the support of the OSF-St. Francis board of directors. Dr. Hevesy's relationship with the Illinois Department of Public Health in Springfield, which regulates paramedics and ambulances in the state, is well known in emergency medicine circles throughout Illinois.

And finally, the Peoria City Council, which will decide if AMT remains in total control of paramedic care and transport in Peoria for the next decade, will consider the findings and recommendations of a California-based consulting firm.

Some members of the council suspect a pre-existing relationship between AMT and this California firm. One needs a scorecard to keep track of this local health care travesty.

In the meantime, the Peoria Fire Department continues to respond to medical emergencies, can only provide basic life support (not paramedic care) and cannot transport patients, even with its one ambulance.

The PFD obviously does not enjoy the support of the above-named individuals, boards and state agencies.

The real loss, of course, is for Peorians who suffer an out-of-hospital medical emergency. State-of-the-art, pre-hospital emergency care is not offered in Peoria, not because we can't, but because our medical mafia will not allow it.

Dr. John Carroll

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