Three Doctors Resign from San Juan Hospital – Hospital in Trouble

On February 3, the head physician Dr. Paul Reay at the San Juan Hospital in Monticello Utah turned in his resignation.  A couple days later Dr Bryce Peterson turned in his resignation as well.   Dr Reay presented the following letter to the public addressing his resignation:

DocRaeys Letter

The hospital in Monticello Utah has had a high rate of turnover in the last couple of years.

Not too long ago Dr. Lance Allen left the hospital over an alleged violation of his contract by the hospital board. More recently, Dr. Curtis Black  turned in his resignation just prior to Dr. Paul Reay and Dr. Bryce Peterson.

This raises the question as to why the hospital has not been able to retain good doctors.  Could this be due to the change in leadership that happened in December, 2013?

This change came about when the hospital board decided not to renew the contract of the Chief Executive Office (CEO), Phil Lowe. Instead of renewing Phil’s contract, the hospital board decided to appoint the Director of Nursing, Laurie Schafer, as the interim CEO.

I would like to believe that the hospital board would make the best choice possible for the hospital and the people it serves when giving someone this position.

However, one source stated that the board just wasn’t using their heads when appointing Laurie as the CEO. This source went on to say that Laurie gets along with very few people up at the hospital and that there have been numerous complaints filed due to her treatment and behavior towards the staff, the doctors and their family members, and the public. Despite the complaints the source stated that the hospital board has refused to do anything about it and they made a bad situation worse by promoting Laurie to CEO.

Here is a description of what the standard CEO qualifications generally are.

Hospital CEOs

Hospital CEOs generally come from a medical background and almost always hold a Masters of Hospital or Healthcare Administration. Prior to becoming CEOs, they must have about 8-10 years of experience in administrative, management and healthcare positions. The hospital CEO is the highest ranking official in the hospital organization, and he or she also has the toughest job.

According to local sources Laurie Schafer only holds an Associates Degree in Nursing instead of a Masters in some type of healthcare administration field. This raises the question of how hiring a CEO with far less qualifications than the last one is “maintaining our Good Health Care choices in San Juan County” which is the goal of the San Juan Hospital Board according to board member and Vice Chairman Burton Black..

The changing of leadership appears to have escalated issues between the physicians and the board and in my opinion we are quickly seeing the consequences of this decision by the resignation of several really good doctors. These resignations have and will continue to have an impact on the revenue of the hospital due to losing the patients that these physicians faithfully served. For example, Dr. Lance Allen had a fairly large number of patients that he served out of Dove Creek, but since his resignation a lot of these patients quit coming to our hospital and have found treatment elsewhere. This is confirmed by the hospital’s December, 2013 financial report.

San Juan Hospital Financial Report 2013

Based on this report the hospital is losing patients which in turn affects the revenue generated from services the hospital provides. With Dr. Curtis Black, Dr. Paul Reay, and Dr. Bryce Peterson leaving the patient numbers will continue to drop. Many loyal patients might be willing to drive a distance in order to see one of these doctors or to find a new doctor.

“Once the hospital has a reputation for high physician turnover it will be hard to overcome both for prospective patients and potential physicians” according to a heath care professional. To prevent this reputation from happening it is important that the County Commissioners look into these problems and find out why our good doctors are leaving us. If there are problems such as not honoring the doctor contracts or inhospitable working environment, then let’s correct these issues so that we can keep our good doctors here. We need to realize that just because this is Monticello, Utah and a very beautiful place to live – this does not mean people are going to put up with crap in order to remain here. It is necessary to our community to be able to retain good, quality physicians long term in order to provide continuity of our health care.

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