We had hoped a recent health care roundtable hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly with representatives invited from Central Peninsula Hospital, the local medical community and independent physicians would accomplish a lot.
We hoped it would allow all stakeholders to lay all the cards on the table.
We hoped it would allow officials to hear and digest both sides of the perceived divide among the medical community.
We hoped it would make some kind of a difference, or at least take us a step closer to mitigating the situation that has recently come to a head.
But instead of the meeting we'd hoped for, all that was presented was second-hand information from a physician who doesn't live here in response to just one assembly member's line of questioning.
It's clear there is some kind of a divide here, and that's not in the best interest of the community.
Right now our health care community is one of the best in the state, but for it to stay that way, patients need to have faith in our local providers, whoever they are aligned with. We need to fully trust their decisions are being made in the best interest of the patient and not because of an ego or a divide, real or perceived.
But the right questions aren't being asked and the right answers aren't forthcoming.
Through previous allegations brought forward by members of Kahtnu Ventures and amplified by Anchorage-based physician Dr. John Halligan's hesitancy to bring his cancer center proposal onto the CPH campus, we can see something is wrong. Or at least there are those that think something is wrong.
When a difference of opinion becomes a permanent divide, it's time to start asking some questions. Unfortunately, although all the members of the assembly attended the meeting, the only one interested in asking those questions seemed to be president Gary Knopp.
It was also disappointing there weren't more independent physicians at the meeting. For whatever reason -- short notice, no notice or lack of courage to speak out -- this issue remains because we're not hearing the whole picture.
Few questions asked.
No answers found.
No progress and no solution.
We would strongly encourage the assembly to try again, this time with ample advanced notice and without a time constraint.
Let's start this dialogue and maybe we can find some answers. If we leave it alone, it will only fester more.
However, we need to keep in mind there's no immediate solution here. Whatever the task or the mission, there will always be differences of opinion. But when those differences become detrimental to our community, it's time to talk it out.
In short: A divide in the medical community must not continue. A difference of opinion is expected. The first step to finding a workable solution is to get everyone in the same room and start the dialogue. Try again, assembly. Both sides have issues that need to be discussed and ultimately the medical community will be better for it.