As a general surgeon employed by the Sentara Medical Group and the current chief of surgery at Sentara RMH Medical Center, I am writing in response to your recent series of articles regarding our community hospital.
My purpose in writing this letter is not to defend Sentara or suggest that recent changes instituted haven’t had an impact on the medical staff. The simple fact is no one, including me, likes to take a pay cut. I am also not going to suggest these changes have always been managed smoothly.
Physicians, nurses and staff have left due to the restructuring of the medical group practices that have involved changes in compensation dictated by the economic reality of today’s medicine. An economic reality that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite these “failings,” the situation boiled down to a simple decision for the physicians here to make, like any other employee in any other company; either to move forward and rebuild, or to leave and restart. A personal decision that, once made, should be followed by professional not vindictive behavior. Only printing the words of a few self-indulgent physicians only serves to paint this tainted view.
Have you forgotten that everyone who still works at SRMH both live and work in this community? The patients we care for are our friends, relatives and neighbors. Your paper does a disservice to every member of this medical and hospital staff who remain dedicated to caring for the people of this community when you print that SRMH is no longer “a true community hospital.” Repeating the charge that SRMH doesn’t provide comprehensive services asserts the premise that our dedicated team isn’t adequately able to care for our patients. This is an affront to each and every skilled, committed caregiver at our hospital.
Like many of my colleagues, my personal choice was to stay and maintain, rebuild and expand this hospital and continue to provide comprehensive care for this community. The orthopedics department is actively rebuilding with several outstanding surgeons starting this summer. The urology department is stronger than ever and soon offering robotic procedures.
Next time, the DN-R might consider asking those of us on the front lines if SRMH provides outstanding patient care and has the resources and support to do so.
Ask the ICU nurses working endless hours in PPE keeping our COVID patients alive if they provide “adequate” care. Ask our floor nurses who work selflessly to provide exceptional patient care. Ask the cardiologists and cardiac surgeons who perform state-of-art interventions to save lives or the general surgeons who remove colon cancer. Ask the OBs if they feel less equipped to deliver babies or will soon be able to care for those in need in NICU.
An effort to get their perspective might be useful in obtaining a complete picture of the situation. For our community’s paper to not to ask, and to suggest otherwise, is irresponsible.
Robert Garwood, MD, lives in Harrisonburg.