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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Dr. Craton: 14 Years Ago, Letter of Intent for Two - Bedford Hospitals to Merge

The following was a retired physician Dr. Debrorah Craton's Facebook posting in regard to the failed merger of the two Bedford hospitals posted two days ago. In announcement on Friday St. Vincent Dunn Hospital will be closing December 16th.

St. Vincent Dunn Hospital

IU Health Bedford

Editorial Rant:

It is ironic that today in my Facebook memories it popped up those 14 years ago today Dunn Memorial Hospital entered into a Letter of Intent with Clarion Health systems which later became IU Health.

That was the last time that a merger between the two hospitals of Lawrence County took place. Those negotiations went on for a year with the results being the County walking away from the merger. There were several reasons that merger did not happen, but the main part was that business concerns/money concerns took first place.

The majority of the physicians at the time wanted there to be one hospital. The majority of the citizens that were to be affected wanted there to be one hospital that could be a flagship of healthcare in southern Indiana. Unfortunately, the negotiations became more about acquisitions than a true merger and so there remained two hospitals.

St Vincent Health, which later became Ascension Indiana, entered the playing field. One of the questions I specifically asked was “What happens in 5-10years if you decide it just isn’t worth it and St Vincent pulls out and walks away? What happens to the patients and the employees?” I was told that no one can ever predict healthcare, but St Vincent had never abandoned a hospital, and it just would never happen.

And so on July1, 2010, Dunn Memorial Hospital became a member of the St Vincent family. Unfortunately, again the businesspeople began to control the running of the hospital. It was no longer about patient care, serving the community, and upholding “core values,” now it was about pleasing the payor sources, ie the Federal government and insurance companies.

The physicians, nurse practioners; the nursing staff and other department leaders were no longer involved in decision making. The local board of governors became a board in name only as the members of the “local” board were all from Indianapolis.

How can people of Indianapolis understand or even care what happens to the citizens of Lawrence County?

One of the reasons I was given for Ascension/St Vincent feeling like they could pull out was that “we can’t be all things to all people.” From that premise, since IU Health was only a few blocks away the powers that be are willing to walk away leaving the patients of this county to “fend for themselves.”

Some may accuse me of jumping ship when I retired in June. What many may not know is that a young doctor had been offered a contract to come work with my practice. I had told AMG that I was willing to stay and help with the transition and maybe continue on in a reduced capacity since I was already past retirement age.

Without notifying either the young doctor or myself, the contract was pulled, and she was not hired. We were told that another provider was not needed in this area. I explained that if the new doctor did not come, that I was leaving. AMG made no effort to change my mind.

Again, the decision makers, in Indianapolis, said the current providers could absorb the patients. A hospital cannot survive without physicians! Physicians and NPs cannot survive without support from their “employer.”

I give you all this history to say this…..until physicians, NPs, nurses and patients speak up about about what they REALLY want in their healthcare, the “suits” will continue to make decisions about your care based not on what is best physically, emotionally or spiritually best it will continue to be based only on financial outcomes!

Note: Any Lawrence County Zephyr is allowed to submit an opinion letter. However, Lawrence County Zephyr reserves the right to reject any submission for any reason.

Submit letters to Lawrence County Zephyr by email:

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