Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Courier Tribune Strikes Again: When "Guest" Columnists Overstay Their Welcome (Subtitled: Give Bob Morrison A Forum And He Will Demonstrate Why Asheboro "Died")

Just when I think I'm out, they draw me back in . . . 

I have read a lot of garbage in Asheboro’s Courier Tribune over the last nearly 20 years. But a “guest opinion” column written by Robert Morrison, the “colorful” (as dubbed by all the “right people”) former CEO of Randolph Hospital, and published on the day after Thanksgiving, pretty much sits at the top of the stinking heap. 

I am posting this response on Facebook, and tagging Judge Rob Wilkins, because Morrison’s “opinion” (containing a not-so-veiled, uber-despicable swipe at Rob) deserves a forceful response.  But it won’t get one at that sorry excuse for a newspaper (because free speech is only a right for a "right person" like Bob Morrison).  So it will get one here.
As a life-long “invisible” citizen/taxpayer of Asheboro/Randolph County – and longtime critic of the Courier’s peculiar brand of “journalism”, my letters-to-the-Editor are NEVER published, and I have long been banned from commenting on their stories online.  You see, the story of what happened to me in Asheboro . . .   years ago, as a home-grown Board-certified Pediatrician recruited home to public service . . . on Bob Morrison’s watch and under his direction (a story our newspaper’s Editor/Publisher know about but have REFUSED to fully/truthfully tell), is EMBARRASSING to many of Asheboro’s powers-that-be.  These “leaders” of a now-dying mill town tightly circled the wagons around Bob Morrison when he was wrong – when he lied – when he cheated – when he stole.  It's been a way-of-life in Asheboro for a very long time - when it comes to the rules of any game, some people are just more "equal" than others.  And the City Fathers can't figure out why the town is "dying" now - why the Lord God is not answering their prayers for community grace and redemption.  

Ergo, I cannot now let these “editorials” (in which Bob basks in his own tolerance and moral superiority – lecturing the rest of us on “integrity” and “equality”) pass in silence – particularly not when he attacks a friend.

And Judge Rob Wilkins is my friend.  He is my friend because he is a man of conviction and character who, over the last couple of years (we’ve only known each other that long), has managed (simply by demonstrating, on a daily basis, the strength of that conviction and character) to restore a very small portion of the faith I long-ago lost in our local legal system . . . a system that is just as broken and corrupt as my own once-noble profession – a profession brought low by the likes of Bob Morrison – Asheboro’s own $700,000  man.

Bob’s rambling editorial is not worth a word-for-word reprint (if this is what passes for intellectualism in Asheboro, the town is truly doomed), but I am going to hit the highlights – and I must begin by stating why Bob Morrison is the LAST person in Asheboro who should be lecturing any of the rest of us on integrity – or the pitfalls/evils of subterfuge, and deception.  

Then, we will get to what Bob said about the Judge.

Bob starts off by talking about being thankful for this nation and the opportunities it provides. But then he states his “pride” in our nation is in need of repair (he actually sounds a lot like Michelle Obama).  I would remind Bob that pride is one of the seven deadly sins, and it generally comes before a big fall.
I know.  I was very proud of the Pediatric practice I built in Asheboro – after taking advantage of the opportunity my government provided – to repay my medical school loans for service (to the “under-served” in a “non-profit” setting).  The goal of the National Health Service Corps was for me to come home and stay home (even if I wound up transitioning into private practice when my obligation was done).  And, after YEARS of hard work/paying my dues, that's what I wanted to do - I wanted to live and work amongst my family and friends.  As a child, I'd had a HORRIBLE surgical outcome at Randolph, and I didn't want that to happen to anyone else. 

(If anyone is wondering, when I was five years old. an Asheoro/Randolph Hospital Family Practitioner MUTILATED my throat and soft palate when he took my tonsils out - to the point that my soft palate had to be reconstructed when I was in college.  Years later, while employed by the hospital, I gave Randolph another chance - this time with sinus surgery - only to have a local ENT bore a hole into my face/skull that, according to experts at NC Baptist Hospital, was placed in the WRONG location.  This also had to be surgically corrected - at least, inasmuch as it could be.  For the record, my family and I did not sue the physicians/hospital in either instance - for all that suing Randolph Hospital for what they would later do to me/my practice garnered me the local reputation of being a litigious witch - as opposed to a dedicated/deeply hurt physician done horribly wrong - insult piled upon injury.)

I was recruited home to “clean up” Pediatrics.  But, over time, my relationship with management deteriorated because Bob Morrison did not want to do what was necessary to back his Pediatricians up in his small town hospital’s stupid turf wars.  In Asheboro, as is the case with many (if not most) small-town hospitals in North Carolina, the doctors who take care of children at their sickest are at the absolute BOTTOM of the medico-political totem pole - we're there to be the OB's and surgeon's and ED docs' whipping-boys-and-girls . . . treated little better than the lowliest medical student.  We're damned-well supposed to know/stay in our place - or else.  We can be sued for up to 18 years after we see/treat a child, but we're supposed to swallow all the short-sighted cost-cutting measures (like putting sick children on the same wards as newborn infants . . . or closing Pediatric wards altogether . . . or kicking newborns out of the hospital in 24 hours) . . . and staff clinic hours/endure call-loads that the Internal Medicine and Family Practitioners routinely SNEER at (their "quality of life" being so much more important than ours) . . . while being paid NOTHING for our extra time.  We're heroes for a day when we clean up the messes others make - then we go right back to being nobodies/pawns.  If we dare say "boo!" to the layer-upon-layers of overpaid suit and lawyers (people with a fraction of our education/trainingdictating the conditions under which we work, we're thrown out with the trash - so they can bring in the next gullible newbie to abuse. 

And make no mistake, Bob Morrison was at the front of all of these despicable trends in which community hospitals/their executives "owned" Pediatricians and could bully them into submission. His top priorities, you see, were not about patient care. They were not about public service.  Bob's priorities were all about appearances and money - to feed his bonuses and his retirement parachute.  My patients were cattle to the "volume guy" - assets to be driven in and out of the hospital/office as much as possible.  And because his priorities did not mesh with those of the well-meaning Federal program that recruited me home, Bob Morrison ultimately found it cumbersome to play by the government’s rules.  So Bob/his lawyers found a way to cheat . . . while the government I served ignored its own mandates and looked the other way – as the government often does. The government was supposed to "help" the community by recruiting and retaining Pediatricians to Asheboro/Randolph County.  It was supposed to help me get a leg up on getting a practice established.  Alas, thanks to Bob Morrison, and no checks or balances,  I have lived the long-ago warning of Ronald Reagan:  “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

On the flip side, the government TOTALLY worked for Bob Morrison.  He has made a very good living for himself under the cover of public service . . . lying, bullying, scheming and cheating other people out of the fruits of their hard work – and their dreams.  His faith is in government is based in the subterfuge and deception he got away with when he should have been fired, or gone to jail. That, and the great big phat pile of money he's wallowing in now - courtesy of an uninformed populace (thank you, Courier Tribune).

Like most good Democrats (no offense intended to my friends who are truly good Democrats – as opposed to pompous impostors – like Bob – who spent the majority of his professional life living like the worst stereotypical-good-ole-boy-fat-cat Republican . . . from the ridiculously-inflated salary he collected while employed by small-town “non-profit” hospital . . . to the way he used clueless mill-town leaders to shield himself from accountability for his lies and subterfuge . . . to the way he has selectively rallied his neighbors to pave Viewmont Road only just past his cul-de-sac), Bob puts all of his faith in the government – a government guided by a supposedly benevolent majority.  His premise (as best I can tell) is that in democratic societies, the majority tends to rally towards noble goals in times of great crisis – and is capable of great things.


Bob moves on.  But along came Hitler.  The majority is not always benevolent.  Might is not always right. Government is not always good. (Another DUH).  Groups of people are made scapegoats – enemies of the state.  Opposition to what the majority wants must be ridiculed, humiliated, marginalized and destroyed (insert obligatory Star Trek Borg reference:  “Resistance is futile”). 

Bob says this is America today.  And I agree. 

But my agreement comes from the vantage point of someone who was used, abused, betrayed and abandoned by her government (in large part to cover/save Bob’s lying tail) . . . someone who has spoken a lot of truth to power (Asheboro’s powers-that-be didn’t listen) . . . someone who (for the sin of telling that truth) has been ridiculed/humiliated/marginalized/but-not-quite-destroyed . . . someone who has real reason/just cause to never, ever trust/believe the government again.

Bob spends quite a bit of time waxing poetic about pride and the public trust – from the space program (he had to have a Kennedy reference) to the building of the Interstate Highway system and the Hoover Dam – the public had to trust the government for these things to be successful.
We've come to the paragraph in Bob’s op-ed that I’m going to quote:  “Some steps towards building national pride would be to replace deception, partial truth, and manipulation of government processes that are the current norm with integrity, openness and equal application of laws and standards to all of us.  Integrity requires much more than not telling lies.  It requires intentionally communicating the whole truth; a task that is difficult when the subjects are laden with emotion.  Integrity also requires listening to learn what we do not know and to understand the perspectives of others.  In our discussions of social and political issues, we must hold ourselves to those standards.  Only then will be able to hold our leaders to them too.”

I would suggest that we START with the author of this editorial (who could have used an editor).  Bob made his bones in Asheboro doing all of the things he tells the rest of us to eschew.  Years ago, in his role as CEO of “non-profit” Randolph Hospital, noble Bob Morrison, “public servant”/community “leader”, put a home-grown Pediatrician in the position of choosing between her job/every-dream-she-ever-had and a dying newborn baby’s life.   If that doctor had done what Bob Morrison and Steven Eblin (Bob’s left hand man – now CEO) would have had her do . . . and caved into their threats (to “shut up” or else about problems at in Pediatric care/physician behavior at Randolph Hospital), she would have hung up on a terrified nurse in the middle of that night, rolled over, gone back to sleep and let a newborn baby die.

Bob rewarded that doctor’s very real courage and integrity by firing her two weeks later.  But he didn’t just fire her.  He SPAT on the spirit and intent of the government program that brought her home – and manipulated her contract in a fashion that served to destroy her practice – so his “non-profit” hospital could quickly/quietly absorb it – and keep “the business” as its own.  Bob lied to everyone about what he was doing – and why.  The doctor’s patients were his “property” – no matter what the agreement the hospital had made with the government said. 

When the doctor fought back (nobody talks back in Asheboro) – and demanded accountability, light and air, Bob sued that doctor for telling the truth to the government she served.  He thought she would run.  She didn’t.  Of course, the government still did nothing to police its own program, and the doctor had to fight her battle alone.  

But the point is, what Bob and his flunkies did was wrong, and she fought back.  And there are doctors in private practice in Asheboro today who should be on their knees thanking her that she did.
When Bob Morrison had to tuck tail and run from his lawsuit (it’s called a SLAPP suit – Google it) . . . because the doctor had been telling the truth all along . . . Bob Morrison and Steven Eblin and Randolph Hospital’s lawyers swindled the Pediatrician out of a fair and equitable settlement . . . a settlement that accurately reflected the damage done to her life and career . . . a settlement that might have brought her home/restored her practice and her dream.  They did it by boldly lying about the confidentiality of public records in discovery responses – and withholding them from the Court.  Now, most ordinary folk would call that subterfuge and deception.  But in Bob’s mind, the end (saving the hospital money) justifying the means (cheating the doctor – defrauding the taxpayer – and betraying the public trust).  And Bob Morrison’s oh-so-noble friends – sitting on boards and in local government let him get away with it (to this day, many of them still pretend that they were not involved or didn’t know what was going on).  Ultimately, so did the Court - in what was clearly a fixed game - elevating a local prosecutor's "discretion" over the spirit and intent of Federal programs - and the law.  I BEGGED Garland Yates to refer the case out for the proper investigation it never got.  But the intent and spirit of the law did not matter – it was all buried by local law enforcement - and our District Attorney’s “discretion” . . . lifting Bob Morrison above the law’s grasp.

That same winking and nodding . . . that same “discretion” . . .  kept the DA’s brother from being arrested and prosecuted for stealing political signs last year. Lady Justice has had her blindfold off and her skirts up in Asheboro for a long time.  So it’s kinda hard to take Bob’s lectures now on everyone being equal under the law.

Moving on, as he moved closer to retirement, Bob’s salary, as CEO of a small-town hospital, jumped into the stratosphere.  His salary alone could have paid the salaries of three full-time physicians – or a number of nurses/PA’s (please tell me, in terms of relative value to the community, was Bob going to get out of bed and see your sick child/parent/sibling/loved one in the middle of the night?).
Now Bob writes drivel for the Courier Tribune – producing tripe that reads like Bob Dylan on a really bad acid trip.

Bob Morrison does not now get to lecture me on integrity – or the importance of trusting the government to do the right thing now.  He most assuredly does not get to do what he did next in the almost indecipherable/barely-readable mish-mash the Courier calls an “editorial”:

Bob Morrison compared Judge Rob Wilkins (in addition to being a practiced liar, Bob is also a coward, so he didn’t actually use Rob’s name) to Catholic priests who molested children, and an FBI director who spied on civil rights leaders. 
What merited this ridiculous leap of hyperbole, you ask?

Why, Judge Rob Wilkins had the audacity to travel to Washington D.C. during the government shutdown, and, while he was there, impulsively help remove barricades from in front of a national monument honoring our WWII veterans - barricades that blocked the path of said veterans to the shrine.  Rob (a Coast Guard veteran himself) had the personal courage of conviction to stand up for what he knew to be right when our government was wrong and broken and not serving the very citizens who fought and bled on fields of battle – citizens who-by-their-sacrifices purchased Bob Morrison’s very right to cast aspersions on his political enemies (and suggest that they be arrested/disciplined) . . .

 . . . because Bob Morrison is Ray Criscoe’s personal political tool in Randolph County – an untouchable, uber-liberal mouthpiece for a frustrated newspaper editor who lives/works in a deeply-red county, and who doesn’t dare say what he wants to say himself – lest he find himself pounding the pavement for another job . . . because even bad newspapers must have standards-of-conduct, and lines you don’t cross.

For Bob's enlightenment, I'm going to point out that the difference between Rob Wilkins' act of civil disobedience in Washington and that of the "Moral Monday" demonstrators in Raleigh (meriting arrest), is that Rob did NOTHING to disrupt the process of government because the government was SHUT DOWN.  It wasn't working (I would argue that it doesn't work when it's up and running).  He wasn't standing at government's door with his hand out.  He was letting people who had already paid their fair share IN.

I believe that most of the citizens of Randolph County believe in the things that Rob Wilkins believes in.  They understand that our free speech has NEVER been “free”.  And they believe that’s Rob’s small, relatively tame act of civil disobedience was the right thing to do – and the right time to do it.

I want to reiterate again that Bob Morrison compared Judge Rob Wilkins to a pedophile – ironically, in an “editorial” in which he bemoaned vilifying/attacking others for political gain.  It fits the "progressive" political MO and leaves me wondering WHO is really behind Morrison’s attack on Rob Wilkins?

In his “editorial”, Bob seems to completely miss the point that this nation was founded by people who took issue with a tyrannical/out-of-control/tax-and-spend government . . . a government that, in my humble opinion, is a whole lot like the Federal government we have now . . . the Democratically-controlled, horribly-inefficient, criminally-incompetent, uber-corrupt, money-sucking, behemoth-pitting-citizen-against-citizen that Robert Morrison would have us blindly support without anyone whimpering a single weak objection.  We’re all supposed to hold hands and sing Kumbaya when we see things that are wrong or stupid.  If something doesn’t work or do what it’s supposed to do, we are to keep our mouths shut and go along to get along (as Bob would have had me do when a Cone-owned neonatologist-wannabe - marketed by Bob's team as having experience/skills he did not possess - nearly killed a critically-ill newborn baby with his arrogance and ignorance).  We’re all supposed to be complacent zombies sucking at the teat of the Daddy-state.  And if we're not sucking, we're supposed to keep shoveling our hard-earned money into a system that does not, in fact, treat all of us fairly or equally - or reward our individual hard work/sacrifice.

For all of his blather about American pride and trust, Bob seems to be advocating a distinctly un-American society without checks, balances, conscientious/peaceful dissent, personal responsibility or individual moral compasses . . . moral compasses like those of Rob Wilkins . . .

. . . moral compasses like mine.
I’m going to close this rebuttal with the observation that Bob Morrison supported Obamacare (the ACA).  According to Bob, it was going to be the answer to all of our problems in healthcare.  We are to believe the same IRS that would not hold Bob accountable for the lying and subterfuge that drove a young Pediatrician out-of-Asheboro for doing the right thing by a patient, is going to police medicine from top to bottom.  Never mind that Bob’s Federal government can’t even get a website to work properly – or guarantee the security of a citizen’s most private information when they sign up.  As for our leaders lying, unless we were already paying-out-the-yang for our health insurance – we can’t keep it – any more than we can keep our doctors.  In North Carolina alone, billions of dollars have been wasted in various Medicaid scams – but Bob wants to expand it . . . we’re supposed to pile millions more patients on fewer and fewer providers and expect fraud/abuse not to skyrocket?  I will note that Obamacare only threw more money at the National Health Services Corps (the program I served while in Asheboro), whose mission and intent was made a mockery of by the lying and cheating of Bob Morrison/Steve Eblin.  Nothing about the oversight of the NHSC (particularly as it pertained to protecting provider participants – all increasingly in shortage) was reformed or fixed.  Bob no doubt supported the ACA because it would drive clinicians into total subservience to lawyers and MBA’s (or out of medicine completely), and rain down perpetual government money on a small mill-town community hospital that is struggling . . . laying off employees because the hospital is still paying (dearly) for Bob’s ridiculous salary and golden parachute.

Bob bled this town/Randolph Hospital dry . . . all the way to a phat retirement.  And I submit that his end did not justify the means.  So once again, his lectures, dripping in political partisanship and wrapped in the Trojan Horse of what a Teflon-coated liar thinks is best, fall flat. 

This isn’t about politics – or what party you’re in.  This is about simple right and wrong. If you actually  believe that he ever had an original thought (and that Steve Eblin wasn't the power behind the throne all alongBob Morrison has been wrong – about a lot of things – for a very long time.   And because he's been wrong, he and those like him brought Asheboro down.  We're still trying to get back up.

But Bob is set and he can fiddle. 

Here’s my suggestion:  I am posting this on Facebook.  If anyone reading this truly is Rob Wilkin’s friend – might I suggest that you (1) LIKE this post, (2) SHARE this post, and (3) write the Courier.  Tell them to STOP printing this garbage.  Tell them that this time they’ve gone too far.  Demand that they END Bob Morrison’s tenure as a “guest columnist”.  Tell Mr. “Colorful” to pack his poison-laced crayons and leave the otherwise empty stage he will apparently say anything to stay on.  Tell them that we-the-People of Randolph County want a newspaper that reports the news . . . that actually investigates . . . that treats people and stories fairly/equally . . . that does not ban anyone from commenting online . . . that truly offers/respects all points of view . . . that doesn’t hide the town’s ugly because it’s ugly . . . and that does not suppress criticism of said ugly.  Speak to their bottom line.  Tell our warped version of “the fourth estate” that subscriptions will be quickly cancelled if the editor/publisher do not soon change the way they practice their craft.  Remind them that they are supposed to speak for the people – not the powerful . . . that their pens and keyboards are supposed to stand for right, not might. 
And finally, put yourself in my shoes – in my family’s shoes.  Put yourselves in the shoes of the parents of the baby whose life I defied Bob Morrison and Steven Eblin to save.  That baby survived her first horrifying night and very difficult beginnings, and has grown into a lovely young woman – whose baptism I was honored to recently attend at First Baptist Church.  So I’m also asking you to write Randolph Hospital.  Tell Steve Eblin that what he and Bob Morrison did all those years ago was WRONG.  Tell them it’s time to finally admit what most everyone knows, and make amends.  

If you’re really disturbed by my story, write legislators and TV stations, and ask them,”What the hell?!?”.  Can this really be America?

Judge Rob Wilkins – and his wife Cindy - became my friends because they did not judge me based on Courthouse snickerings – courtesy of people with ulterior motives, grudges and personal agendas (like keeping a very ugly story – and their roles in it - buried). Rob took the time to get to know me.  He spoke to mutual friends.  He read my blog – not just the stuff I wrote (without him asking) supporting his re-election.  He listened.  Even though, because of his position, he couldn’t do a thing to help me, it was clear he CARED about how horribly his system had let me down.  He felt my disappointment and pain and betrayal on a personal level. I sincerely believe that if someone like Rob had been sitting in other chairs back in the day, my case – and life – might have had a different outcome. Rob Wilkins is his own man. He is a good man.  He cares about truth.  He cares about justice.  It’s not just lip service.  In other words, Rob embodies everything a decent human being – and citizen – and judge – should be. And mealy-mouthed, two-faced, double-talking, back-stabbing, dream-killing Bob Morrison isn’t fit to wash his motorcycle.

Nothing is going to change in this town/county until people-of-conscience stop being afraid of their shadows and stand together and speak out about the things and people that put this town on the map as one of the fastest-dying-towns in America.

And again, civic death and decay .  . . to the point that we're soon going to be a regional trash dump . . . is Bob “Mr. Colorful” Morrison’s real legacy to Asheboro. He's one of the people that put us in the hole.  It’s not all that progressive.  And, as an American, it’s nothing to be proud of.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

On Drinking The Sand . . .

I have not blogged since January - and putting up a post that was supposed to the "the very last word" at Dr. J's Housecalls.  This post will be simultaneously posted on Facebook.  I don't plan to blog again any time soon.

After eight years of blogging - after all the warnings I pro-offered here ((based on my sad/sorry experience with what passes for government oversight in my own hometown - and even with a target on my back) . . . that Obamacare was doomed to failure, I think an, "I told you so!" is in order.  If I've earned anything by speaking truth to power when everyone else played deaf, dumb and blind - or bathed in their particular brand of Koolaid, I've earned that.

(I didn't expect the meltdown to be as spectacular or sudden as it was.)

In recent weeks, I've been thinking a lot about a scene from "The American President" - ironically written and acted by people who (no doubt) all voted for Barack Obama.  The movie was made in 1995 - the year I accepted the job at Randolph Medical Associates - under the "protection" of a National Health Service Corps public service agreement.

With regards to healthcare in this country, the American People wanted leadership.  But they also wanted to feel good about themselves.  They wanted another go at "Camelot" - but with the caveat that the country should do for them instead of the other way around.

And/so, We-the-People elected an inexperienced community organizer who couldn't put together a coherent sentence without a teleprompter - a man who could look his fellow Americans in the eye and knowingly/repeatedly lie to get what he wanted . . . "signature legislation" that assumed control over roughly 20% of our economy and a legacy akin to the republic's first toddler steps towards socialism (well, if you don't count the fiscally unsustainable behemoth called Medicaid).  He accepted a Nobel and laughed as people called him "God" for things he did not do.  The mainstream media fawned and drooled over the young, good-looking empty suit at the microphone - they tried to turn him into Martin Luther King - and told us we were racists/bigots if we didn't hop on their train to hope and change. 

But the thing is, I've read and studied the speeches/works of Martin Luther King, Jr., and this President is not that Reverend Doctor.  Not even close. 

Some of us who had been on the wrong end of non-existent government oversight - and were brutalized (by "charitable" institutions) in our advocacy for patients (in my case, children), tried to warn our fellow countrymen/women . . . but we were subjected to vicious derision and ridicule . . . marginalized . . . professionally eviscerated . . . our voices drowned out by the equivalent of screaming groupies and our stories-of-woe buried.  We were made "invisible".   

And the American People crawled to a mirage and drank the sand.  They did not know the difference only because they really did not want to know the difference.

 "The American People want leadership. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They're so thirsty for it, they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand."

"We've had Presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand, because they're thirsty. They drink it because they don't know the difference."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Very Last Word At Dr. J's Housecalls: An Exchange Of Correspondence Between Steven Eblin, CEO of Randolph Hospital, And Dr. Mary Johnson, Homegrown Pediatrician From Asheboro - Who Wants To Come Home - Indeed, Who Never Wanted To Leave

On Friday morning, Buzz-Armfield-of-the-Asheboro-Armfields dropped 75 cents on a Greensboro News & Record so that I could read all about Edward Cone-of-the-Moses-Cone-Hospital-Cones putting down Word Up (his personal blog).

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:

Mr. Eblin,

As you may have heard, I am looking for permanent employment.  I am much older than when we first met, I’d like to think wiser, world-weary, and tired-to-my-bones of the road.

And, I understand that Randolph Hospital is recruiting again – to the practice I started from nothing in 1995.

Attached is my updated CV – which, in the wake of what happened fifteen years ago, demonstrates extensive experience in all areas of Pediatrics.  You won’t find another Pediatrician anywhere more seasoned in handling every manner of bad thing in a rural/small town setting.

Be advised that I do not take back a single thing I’ve said over the years about what Randolph Hospital did to me . . . and what the government I served ignored.  It was wrong – in every way that something could be wrong.  And, in the end, even as the Randolph County justice system once again covered your tracks, a judge still could not say that you/Bob Morrison didn’t lie in discovery – he simply let you skate on a technicality.  But there isn’t anything else I can do on the legal front.  I have to surrender this in order to move on.

I’m not sure that what I’m doing now could be called forgiveness – because I do not believe in cheap grace.  And I won’t be forgetting anything.  But I have to give it to Someone Else.  I have to let it go.

I don’t know what you really “won” by employing the tactics that you did.  Asheboro isn’t the Asheboro I was recruited back home to serve in 1994/95.  The Mayberryesque landscape of my hometown has been decimated by “important” people who could look no further than their own pocketbooks – and who’ve long treated people they deemed lesser beings very badly.  What’s happened to Asheboro is Biblical.  Its leaders have reaped what they’ve sowed.  Unfortunately, there has been a lot of collateral damage.

But I still live here.  I have deep roots.  I know the playing field.  There is nothing you have to “sell”.  I’m still willing to serve – and to be a part of the solution.  Recruitment would not cost you a dime.

This idea started as a joke.  But I am serious now.

Accordingly, I am willing to negotiate a burial of the hatchet (with the concessions that might entail) – in order to sleep in my own bed at night, be near my Mother/family/friends, and actually attend the church to which I tithe . . . which was kind of the point of my legal battle all along.

A resolution of our on-going conflict in the form of a public reconciliation makes a lot of sense in difficult economic/medical times – and would be a good public relations move for the hospital.

I am quite willing to work within the traditional practice model.  But I am also willing to discuss a non-traditional extended hospitalist/Pediatric call coverage arrangement - along the same lines as what I’ve been doing for the last four years in Eastern North Carolina – if local physicians seeing children would be interested/amenable.  An independent-contractor relationship is preferred, but I would consider employment.  Salary is negotiable.  It was never about the money for me.  If you will recall, I’m the doctor who wanted the straight/fair salary befitting the mission of a “non-profit” – in exchange for the provision of quality Pediatric care . . . as opposed to volume bonuses and incentives to treat patients like cattle.

Obviously, any contract would need to be carefully negotiated.

It took a lot of soul-searching to send this letter and to take this chance/risk.  Given all of the talk, in church circles, about healing a broken, dying city, I am giving you and your Board-of-Directors the opportunity to walk your talk – something I did not see or experience fifteen years ago – and have not seen since.

Again, Asheboro is on life support for a reason.

Real leaders – real Christians – admit it when they’ve made mistakes – and they work to correct them.  We both made mistakes when we were younger – mistakes with their foundations in the deadliest of sins – pride.

Please do not believe that if you do not answer this letter – or ignore the CV, I will be crushed or defeated.  Quite the contrary, in the act of sending it to you, I am finally free of the past. 

The hospitals in this state really must STOP treating the doctors they employ – particularly Pediatricians - so badly.  I am seeing the fall-out everywhere.  Some “villages” are like war zones.  It will not stop unless someone puts a flower in the gun.

And/so here I am.  Call me “crazy”.  But, of course, I know you/Bob/the lawyers already have.

I would welcome your call. 


Mary H. Johnson, M.D., FAAP

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,

I am in receipt of your letter, dated 3/8/2013.  I was surprised to get the letter, but not surprised by its content.  I know that penning this response is probably a waste of my time, but like Dr. Ben Carson, I think it’s way past the time doctors in this country stood up to the bullies – wherever they may be – and spoke truth directly to power.

In your response to the submission of my CV for consideration of an employed or independently-contracted position in Asheboro, you state that you don’t believe it would result in a good outcome for me or the organization.  I am sorry, but it's a cop-out.  For rather than my good, or the organization’s good or even the community’s good, I believe that the issue has always been what you believed/believe would be a good result for you.  I think it’s far past the time that you adjusted that belief system and owned up to the inaccuracies in your account of what happened during and after my employment as your first Pediatrician at Randolph Medical Associates (RMA), Pediatrics.

Like many healthcare executives in this state, running a community charity “too big to fail”, you’ve been insulated from the consequences of your actions and strategies for the last fifteen years.  You do pretty much what you want to do, with little real oversight or resistance.  But what happened in 1998 has affected EVERY minute and aspect of my life since.  From the limited choices I had for work (the local blackball) and future training (getting fired by a hospital really puts a damper on fellowship opportunities) . . . to forever complicating the job applications and credentialing . . . to decimating my income and savings . . . simply everything was derailed.  I could not escape the fall-out of what you did to prove who was “boss”, and have had to armor myself in “explanations” explaining the unexplainable to this very day.

As more and more of medicine’s young guns enter into employment relationships with hospitals, my experience working for you stands as a prime example of WHY employed and contracted physicians in North Carolina need protections and reform that Obamacare did not deliver.

In stark contrast to yours, my “account” is well-substantiated by the blank-and-white of unpleasant but irrefutable facts:  You hired me to “clean-up” Pediatrics at Randolph Hospital, and then did NOTHING to have my back as I did.  You fired me two weeks after I defied your Director’s edicts (edicts that YOU endorsed, then angrily/arrogantly defended), answered a terrified nurse’s call, intervened in a case being mismanaged by a doctor whose skills your PR team falsely advertised, and saved a critically-ill baby’s life . . . the next morning reporting the mess to hospital Peer Review.  Like many things going on at the hospital/practice at the time, I would not/could not just pretend that what had happened was okay, and you retaliated.  It was a classic whistle-blower scenario.

There is nothing about what I just said that isn’t absolutely true.  Our “accounts” differ simply because you LIED from day one about your mission, your intent, and your actions.  In fact, you were busted on your “account” long ago.  You just were never held accountable by anyone who should have held you accountable.  It’s a very sad commentary on the moral core of many of Asheboro’s finest citizens – rich mill town rulers (young and old) - who've sat on the boards and controlled the newspapers.

When you fired me, you kept me in a contractual box for six months (the written instructions I got were very clear on what I could not do while still “employed” by RMA – no matter what “accounting” you gave to your Board-of-Directors), and lied to my patients about the circumstances of my termination – literally stealing my practice/patient base out from under me, and not allowing me the opportunity to smoothly transition to private practice – in breach of agreements we both had with the Federal government.  You wanted to keep my patient base as RMA’s own , and you did not want the competition.  To quote Mike Bridges (your former Director), you wanted me to “just go away”.

Here’s the thing about that:   Even if you believed that I was not a “good fit” for RMA . . . you had no right to do what you did the way that you did it.  It was a knife in my back (for once-upon-a-time I did believe/trust you), a disservice to the community (because you ultimately drove away not one, but two stellar Pediatricians), and a fraud upon the taxpayer (when the Federal/state money used to recruit and RETAIN those Pediatricians in Asheboro was poured down the drain due to your actions).

I am different from most doctors in that I did not tuck tail and run, I fought back. I did it because Asheboro was my home.  I was part of the fabric of Randolph County long before either you or Bob Morrison were even aware of the blip on the map.  As a child I collected small change in milk cartons for the zoo.  I grew up shadowing my Mother and her colleagues as they taught school.  I chased local trains with my Father, and told Uwharrie ghost stories at Camp Caraway.  I marched in the band of J.B. Fields.  And I rubbed shoulders with some of the legends of Seagrove as they threw their pots.  I am literally a part of the mud here.

When I did fight back in Court, you sued me for “libel”, only to have the veracity of my accounting of the events preceding and after my termination (as documented in a confidential narrative I sent to USDHHS Secretary Donna Shalala – in response to a direct request for “feedback” from the National Health Service Corps) confirmed in letters written by two of my medical colleagues (both of whom subsequently left Asheboro). In FACT, the NHSC, removed RMA from their list of approved provider sites because of that account – which they clearly deemed both credible and disturbing.

You might remember this quote from one of those colleague’s letters to JCAHO, pertaining to your “accounting” of what happened:

Unfortunately, Randolph Hospital and Mr. Eblin have not made the same effort to be factual in their communication with other physicians, other hospitals or JCAHO.

That characterization even extended to your behavior in Court.  You lied repeatedly during the discovery phase of your own despicable “libel” lawsuit (filed to humiliate and intimidate me into silence), in order to settle on the cheap . . . to avoid paying me what my stolen practice was truly worth.  The “great sum of money” (as you’ve styled it to others) wasn’t even one year’s salary and did not begin to reimburse me for what you had stolen/the damage you had done to my life and career.  

As I said in the cover letter that accompanied my CV, you got out from under those lies on a legal technicality (indeed, it's probably the only reason you responded to the letter - you're scott-free now).  But in the end, even an “outside” judge (hand-picked to favor our DA’s decision to bury a fraud upon me/the taxpayer that should have been investigated/prosecuted long ago) couldn’t say that you did not lie.  He just told me (and the rest of the more ordinary citizens of Asheboro) that it did not matter when people entrusted with the public good lie – even in a Court proceeding – to get what they want.

(I once believed in our Court system as a vehicle driven to find the truth and protect/serve those who tell it.  I do not any more.)

But your lies remain recorded on the Court record in black and white.  You cannot hide from the false accounting.  You run a “non-profit” hospital.  Your financial records and salaries were NOT confidential.  You knew it.  Your lawyers knew it.  Still, you all negotiated a settlement on the lies – the proverbial cherry of bad faith topping the whole spoiled sundae that was my state/Federal service experience in Asheboro, not that it matters to anyone running a town so often likened to Mayberry.

At the very least, Randolph Hospital should have been fined by the IRS (for withholding information that was, by law, public record) . . . and you should have been fired (for cause) by your Board when what you did was brought to their attention.  Of course, I believe you should have been fired long before that . . . when it became clear you had retaliated against a medical whistle-blower.

And yes, I believe deep-in-my-bones that both you and Robert Morrison took great satisfaction from doing what you did – and (in particular) networking with your friends-in-Asheboro’s-high-places to get away with it.  Far from being about serving the best interests of children in Randolph County, your actions were all about money and power and control – about “winning” no matter what the cost.  You were the quintessential mill-town corporate bullies – for your tactics were not just about destroying me, but were also designed to send a very clear message to every other physician in town about who was “boss” . . .  and instilling fear in anyone else who might dare stand up to you – a message that unfortunately resonates through the medical landscape to this day. 

My memory of ALL of this is exceptionally clear – I still have nightmares about some of it.  I expect the same is true of the memory of the parents of the baby I came in to help.  And the ugly story of the homegrown doctor mercilessly “done dirty” by Randolph Hospital is permanently weaved into the fabric of Asheboro’s history.  It’s your legacy – even as you/your old boss/Board members attend local prayer services and ask for God’s mercy upon the economic wasteland you helped fashion.  Using and abusing and throwing away your fellow man/woman (from illegal immigrants to homegrown doctors) you’ve all reaped what you’ve sown – and I daresay you won’t be seeing/getting any mercy from Above until you change your ways.

Your management of RMA and Randolph Hospital – and what you’ve done to doctors (not just me) and the medical landscape – has made a mockery of the “non-profit” mission you recruited me home to serve.  I am seeing a kind of karmic justice (for lack of a better term) in Asheboro now that I could never have imagined or crafted on my own.  It’s rather like Celie’s curse, except that you did it to yourselves.

I will never forget – or completely get over – watching the Pastor of my home church embrace a physician who brazenly carried on an extramarital affair with a nursing colleague, and then aborted his own child in their apartment (something that you knew about, but did nothing to address until the Medical Board forced your hand), as a reformed/repentant sinner . . . while so many of Asheboro’s “right people”, responsible for running Randolph Hospital – and attending the town’s churches, stood silently by and let Mary Johnson be professionally crucified for saving a baby’s life . . . a baby that you, your Director and your old boss would have had me let die.  For rest assured, that’s the VERY CLEAR message you delivered to me just two days before I had to make the decision that would forever change my life:  “Right and wrong do not matter.  Shut up/march-in-step, or ELSE."

While I understand and appreciate the example the Pastor was trying to set (regarding redemption and forgiveness), to this day, I cannot wrap my head around what Asheboro's supposedly-ethical leaders (particularly their medical leaders) allowed to be done to me by virtue of their silence, determined indifference and apathy.

I do predict that if you do not clean up your act, which is by your own admission “unsustainable”, another larger organization is going to swoop in, take over and clean your house for you.  Indeed, it’s probably too late to stop it.  I know that many people in Asheboro – patients and physicians alike - are praying for this to happen soon.

Fifteen years ago, you were able to walk away from your decisions/actions personally unscathed – shielded by your way overpaid boss, and your rubber-stamping Board-of-Directors, employment laws that treat doctors little better than janitors at one of Asheboro’s dead/dying mills,  and the dishonest tactics of your corporate lawyers – all of your expenses underwritten by the taxpayer.  The Courier Tribune winked and nodded and deliberately kept the general public in the dark.  State and Federal oversight organizations condoned what happened with determined silence – none of them standing to challenge what was clearly wrong, or to actually do what they tell the public they do.

Worst of all, for going on two decades, and as crippling physician shortages loom, the North Carolina Medical and Pediatric Societies have allowed hospitals to decimate community Pediatrics in so many locales – and abuse/treat Pediatricians like the enemy . . . as if we’re errant rebels surrounding some faltering Death Star instead of vital assets to the towns where we practice.  I’ve been appalled by what I’m seen in many North Carolina communities as I travel, work and interview.

Old mentors, prominent in these organizations, privately shake their heads and bemoan the sad/sorry state of things, but do/say NOTHING about or against it.  And the legislature has done nothing to protect employed and contracted physicians from corporate malfeasance.  Excellent MD’s can easily be fired, cast-off, treated as criminals and professionally brutalized, while the corporate wagons circle around incompetent management and shield/protect them at all costs.  While doctors and nurses bear the brunt of the mistakes and bad management, hospital executives remain largely untouchable.

And/so, in stark contrast to your idyllic existence as a “master of industry” in Asheboro . . . because I stood to do the right thing by a patient, I was literally cast out of my hometown, and everything I had worked so hard to build was destroyed.  I was not-so-subtly slandered . . . legally mauled to the point of near-bankruptcy . . . black-balled for miles . . . and have never completely recovered from the professional/personal trauma.  And that’s not even considering the physical scars from two surgeries horribly botched at your institution.  So “on-going” is really the ONLY way I know how to describe the consequences of our conflict.

All of this being said, Asheboro apparently needs another Pediatrician, and I want to come back home to practice.  That’s how I want to use my skills – that’s the fulfillment I crave.  Again, my Mother is here.  My friends are here.  When I came home to Asheboro in 1995, it was my intention to be here for my entire career.  You/Randolph Hospital worked a great wrong – drenched in greed, malice and spite.  I certainly understand that the truth makes you and your lawyers uncomfortable, but it IS the truth.  

Good Pediatricians are NOT “a dime a dozen”, and it is far past the time that YOU made it right.  There are ways to accomplish that would benefit both the community and your organization, but in order for it to happen, YOU have to be a real leader, acknowledge that serious mistakes were made, and reach across the wreckage caused by your decisions.

I expect you might be surprised how well it could turn out – for you, for your organization – and for me.  Unless, of course, if what you said in your letter is actually confirmation of the threat I always feared if I attempted to put out my own shingle in Asheboro and re-apply for admitting privileges at Randolph Hospital . . . acknowledgement that, if I had launched a new start-up, competing with "your" practice, I would have had a target on my back (for something far worse than "just" getting fired) from the day I opened the door.  A lot of physicians have been destroyed by bad-faith hospital peer review - i.e. one or more groups trumping up charges against a doctor they want to get rid of.

So many people did not understand why I was so reluctant to take that risk after the big swindle.

You are absolutely right.  I am an excellent clinician (if nothing else has changed, you remain the master of the back-handed complement).  But I am so much more than that, and fifteen years ago I needed/deserved a hospital management team to match my skills, to mentor and feed and mold/temper my youthful passion as a child advocate, and to have my back when I was in the right.  Indeed, that was the “you practice good medicine, and we’ll take care of all the rest” environment you promised when you recruited me home.

Yours was an epic failure in physician management.

Nevertheless, if providing excellent/principled Pediatric care to the children of Asheboro is truly what you want from a Pediatrician, then there is simply isn’t any good reason for Randolph Hospital not to talk to me about coming back home to practice – and how to make that happen.

And/so my offer to call a truce and rebuild something from the ashes stands.  As I said before, noting recent trends, I would be particularly interested in discussing contracted Pediatric hospitalist call coverage – so that the Pediatric providers in the community (Family Practitioners and Pediatricians alike) can concentrate more on their office practices.

But any reconciliation must have its foundation built upon truth.  It’s not an “agree-to-disagree” kind of thing.  Your letter was worthy of the lawyer(s) who probably wrote it – I would expect the very same lawyer(s) who got you into this mess in the first place – who told you that it was okay to break promises and maul contracts/ignore agreements because, with the right “spin” (your “account”), no one would care or do anything about it.

Getting Mary Johnson out of your way was just a game to them.

As you well know, in my youth, I was never one for playing games.  And I am too old now to mince words now.

You can continue to ignore this letter/offer.  You can do what you’ve always done, and smirk/snicker with your corporate pals on Asheboro’s increasingly barren/brown golf courses that the lady doctor who faced you down in Court (and won) is somehow “crazy” (the tried-and-true brand of a coward without a good argument), or a Bible-thumping prude (a notion that would be really amusing to anyone who really knows me) . . . as opposed to a principled and (as you say) clinically-gifted homegrown child advocate who, while working for you, ALWAYS put her patients first – not matter whose toes she stepped on or what the cost.  

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.

One day (knowing how your mind works, please be clear that this is not to be construed as a threat), when you finally cannot hide behind lawyers – or the trappings of your job, and must answer to the Maker we both believe in, your false accounting of what you did to me WILL matter.

From Exodus to Revelation, the Bible is crystal clear on where the Lord God stands on liars.

Once again, given your track record, I likely will not ever completely trust you (I'm wondering if any medical practitioner in Asheboro does), but I am willing to take the risk and bury the hatchet.  It is a golden opportunity for you and your organization to finally put the past in the past.  But you have to own up to the sins that you tried to bury there, and make real amends.

You have my CV and my contact information.


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 I started writing this, I thought about dedicating the last word at Housecalls to Edward Cone.  But that would be giving him too much credit - which, I think, was my mistake all along.  "Blogsboro" was all and only about how the rest of us fit into Ed's orbit.  It's the reason so few hang out there anymore . . .

. . . 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.

Monday, March 04, 2013

You Could Say That It Just Took Time

I had not planned to put up any new posts.  But this Time Magazine article is, hands-down, the BEST-researched and written article I have EVER read on what is wrong with our healthcare system . . . particularly our "non-profit" healthcare system.  And it totally underscores why, in the battle with Randolph Hospital, the lone Pediatrician's fight for justice was doomed from the start.


Please note the article's length.  Some stories cannot be told in a soundbite.  Perhaps I was in the wrong venue all along.