Ironically, you could not read the article in its entirety online. And, as of today, the story has no comments. It was a fitting last nail in the coffin of the notion of "citizen journalism" that brought me to the blogosphere in 2005.
I had my say on Ed's departure on Facebook.
After so many words on Word Up - which, as far as I can tell, made no real difference in anything, Ed finally wants to do (with his writing) what he never would do for me as a journalist . . . what I begged for years for him to do . . . i.e. go deeper (and longer) than the pithy soundbite.
To mark this momentous occasion, I thought I would share a recent exchange of correspondence between myself and Steven Eblin - my former boss at Randolph Medical Associates, and now CEO of Randolph Hospital.
As much as I have railed against the overpriced/over-hyped leadership of Robert Morrison over the years, Steve Eblin was the true architect of the destruction of my life's dream.
I've been doing an exercise in Bible study for Lent, as I wrap up an extended sabbatical from work. Today is day 40 of Lent/Palm Sunday and the "last word" on this blog will be related to Scripture from the workbook. The exercise has helped immensely as I worked through the emotional and physical fallout from yet another PTSD-generating turn of the corporate screw - in its way, very reminiscent of what I endured fifteen years ago in Asheboro. The brutal/cruel betrayal by an organization/people I trusted - and had only served faithfully/well - after YEARS of laboring for them to the point that I simply had next-to-nothing left to give was devastating. It wasn't fun . . . and at times has been a very rough go. But I survived. And I'm starting to see Light.
Things simply have to change for doctors soon - or medicine in this state/country is going to be in a very bad way. Hospitals really need to clean up their act. Healthcare includes caring about the people providing the care. Clearly, a lot of the MBA's in the equation don't.
Speaking of (places in a very bad way), this morning's Sunday School lesson was about the "rich young ruler" (Mark 10:17-31), which I believe has many parallels to the sad/sorry state of things in Asheboro today. We'll get to that in my correspondence with Steve.
Anyway, I am at a crossroads, and really don't know what I want to do for the rest of my life. I've accepted a Locum Tenens assignment that will last at least through the summer - probably longer if I like the assignment/they like me. Meanwhile, I'm doing interviews/looking around for something more "permanent" (whatever "permanent" means), and with LESS CALL (because what I've been doing for the last four years - for people/an organization who clearly did not appreciate it - was just absurd). I'd really like to get off the road and find something within commuting distance of Asheboro - because Asheboro is home and I don't want to move. But if I do that, I will likely have to give up hospital medicine/a hospital affiliation once and for all. And that's a shame, because I love holding down the Pediatric fort at smaller hospitals, and I am very, very good at it - much better, I'd say than some inexperienced newbie coming out of a training system producing doctors ill-prepared to be lone ranger in the middle-of-nowhere-in-the-middle-of-the-night.
But I've reached a point in life and my career where I've decided I've got nothing to prove to anybody any more.
And, after a while, affiliated with a hospital, you get tired of being everyone's pawn and battering ram. For when it comes to community hospitals, Pediatricians are ALWAYS at the bottom of the food chain. We don't book OR's and we don't make wheel-barrows full of money for the hospital. Never mind that any decent OB service needs good Pediatric back-up. And when they really need us, it's about a whole lot more than just drying off the baby. Oftentimes, the executives/bean-counters/lawyers treat us little better than an RN (no offense intended to RN's - many of whom pick up a lot of slack in the really bad situations), no matter how many nights/weeks/months of call we take, or messes we clean up . . . or how many lawsuits we prevent.
Pediatricians all over North Carolina are sick and tired of being taken for granted by community hospitals, and are pulling out of call rotations en masse. They cannot run busy offices (for shrinking reimbursements - because we all know just how "valuable" the health and well being of children really is to this society) and be at the beck-and-call of the OB's and ER, and make a living, and have any kind of life.
Community hospitals are being forced to turn to/contract with larger hospitals to provide Pediatric hospitalist coverage . . . which is a whole nuther loaded topic outside the realm/purpose of this post.
And the purpose of this post is to put the final punctuation on why I became a citizen of Ed Cone's blogosphere at all.
As I started the job hunt, I discovered that Randolph Hospital is recruiting a new Pediatrician (I would presume to the practice I started for them in 1995). One of my pals suggested I send a copy my CV ("Curriculum Vitate" or doctor's resume) to Steve Eblin.
It was a joke. But the joke took hold.
If I do say so myself, my CV is impressive/loaded. You name it, I've done it. 39 assignments since 1994. Private practices, hospital clinics, Federal clinics, urgent cares, Pediatric ER/trauma centers, community hospital wards. I've actually had to take the CV offline because I was getting too many phone calls from too many recruiters (most of whom cannot figure out WHY I want to continue to live in dead/dying Asheboro).
And/so, I did sent the CV in to Eblin . . . I mean, I'm more qualified for the job than any other applicant he will ever get. So why not? With a cover letter.
Eblin responded on March 8 (at least he didn't ignore the letter - which is the usual modus operandi of the very important MBA's running medicine who cannot be bothered with the MD's actually practicing it).
Inspired by the Lent exercise, and a guy named Ben Carson, I decided to write back, and serve up a little truth to power.
And, of course, I still have this blog. The letters will be presented in sequence. And I really do think that, short of eventually republishing selected archived posts in the sidebar, this will be the last word for Dr. J's Housecalls.
This is the cover letter to my CV, dated February 29th:
This is Mr. Eblin's response, dated March 8:
Dear Dr. Johnson,
Thank you for your letter of February 28, 2013, expressing an interest in a position at Randolph Medical Associates and/or the Hospital.
In your letter, you reference our "on-going conflict". Please understand I truly have no conflict with you, nor does this hospital. That said, I do not believe that employment of an independent contractor relationship would end in a good result for you or this organization.
I know you probably won't believe this, but I take no satisfaction in what happened 15 years ago or since. Our accounts of what happened during and after your employment could not be more different. Perhaps the only thing we agree on is you were/are a skilled clinician. I genuinely hope you will be able to use those skills in a way that is fulfilling to you.
Steven E. Eblin
Now, before we proceed with my response, which will be mailed out tomorrow, I have to tell a story. When I got the letter, late on a Saturday afternoon, I slipped it in my Bible after reading it. A few days later, on a drive to Greensboro with a friend, I was telling her about the letter. She asked to see it. I told her that my Bible was sitting on the backseat.
She opened the Bible, pulled out the letter, and began to laugh/slap her knee - before even reading it. I asked her what was so funny.
She, chortled, "Do you realize where you put it?"
"No", I responded.
She read the Scripture (Romans 16:17-18/Holman Christian Standard Translation): "Now I implore you, brothers, watch out for those who cause dissentions and pitfalls contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them; for such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattering words, they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting."
Bottom line: Asheboro is sick. Very sick. We're paying for the appetites and business ethics of people like Steven Eblin - people who've misused/plundered our resources and cannot admit their mistakes - even when they're caught red-handed - even when their lies are recorded in the black and white of Court documents. And if Asheboro is to ever get well, we simply cannot afford to put a pretty face on it any more.
I'm not going to pretend that Mr. Eblin's "account" of what he did to me fifteen years ago - and after - is simply a misunderstanding - or a point upon we should simply agree to disagree. What the MBA did to this MD was WRONG.
I debated for a while about replying to Eblin's letter. But as I contemplated the subtle threat (that only an educated eye might see) and the back-handed "complement", I decided that it wasn't something that could be relegated to the "by-gones" of cheap grace. This is my response, dated today:
Dear Mr. Eblin,
So many people did not understand why I was so reluctant to take that risk after the big swindle.
I will survive (as I have survived) no matter what – or where - or how. In the end, your decision is not so much about success or failure unless you do right by someone you did a great wrong. It’s about a man who once-upon-a-time presented Church attendance as a financial incentive to “his” physicians, actually being the Christian he says he is every time he walks into his own Church.
Mary H. Johnson, M.D., FAAP
As I indicated at the beginning of this post, I've been doing a Bible Study exercise for Lent entitled, "Seek God for the City". I've read the exercises every night - posting them on Facebook - sometimes with commentary, sometimes not.
Today is Day 40 of Lent, and Palm Sunday.
One of the featured Scriptures in the final lesson is Psalm 118:22: "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone."
I was brought up short when I read it - for it brought back a memory: As I walked out of RMA Pediatrics for the very last time all those years ago, Dr. Anderson's nurse (a preacher's wife) burst into heavy sobs, crying (paraphrasing), "This is WRONG, it's so wrong! Dr. Johnson, what are we going to do? You are the heart and soul of this practice."
I was the foundational stone upon which Steve Eblin built his Pediatric house, but for whatever reason (in his formal "accounting", he actually never gave one - that's what "without cause" means), I was extracted/rejected.
Strictly speaking, a capstone, is actually a protective/often decorative covering on a masonry wall. The Old Testament Scripture is referring to the trials of David as he served King Saul - being driven out of his home, becoming a champion of the oppressed, then returning as Israel's anointed king. The passage, of course, in the context of the study, refers to Christ's triumphant arrival in Jerusalem the week before he was crucified and ultimately became the Cornerstone of mankind's redemption.
My desires are not nearly so ambitious. But I would dearly like to be vindicated and return home . . . to get a simple, "I'm sorry. You did not, in ANY way, deserve this. We went too far. And now, we're going to work to make it right."
. . . when you really think about it, there are a lot of analogies to be made to Asheboro and its mill-town kings.
This post is instead dedicated to my parents, who gave me my faith, who taught me right and wrong and to speak-out/fight back . . . as well as to THE Cornerstone upon which I rest my hopes for the future.
And what is the last word at Housecalls, you ask?
FEAR NOT! Don't be sheep, people. Stand up for what is right and just and true.