CPH deserves support of community

The proposal to build the Kahtnu surgical center seems to be the doctors' angry response to former hospital CEO Ryan Smith's attempts to muscle them into joining the hospital staff.  As one health-care provider put it, Ryan was trying to bring Central Peninsula Hospital into the 21st century as fast as he could and this involved trying to reduce costs by exerting pressure on these doctors to become hospital employees.

 

Ryan's economic argument made sense but the execution of the plan was high-handed and insensitive to the needs of the doctors, according to several sources I spoke with.


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So against this backdrop, the idea of the Kahtnu surgical center evolved. America is the land of free enterprise -- at least that's what we keep trying to tell ourselves despite abundant evidence to the contrary -- but the only people who are going to benefit from the surgical center are these eight doctors.  Yes, their costs to deliver services to the public might very well be half of what it costs the hospital to do this but is there any guarantee that Kahtnu's owner/physicians will pass this savings along to the public? In my experience, competitors with low expenses rarely charge much less than their competition so there is little economic advantage for Peninsula residents to support Kahtnu.

On the other hand, there could be distinct disadvantages to the day surgery center. Don't forget that we are the ones who own this hospital.  We are also the ones who will be left holding the bag if Kahtnu cherry-picks the profitable day-surgery patients away from the hospital.  Many of the hospital's expenses are fixed -- they'll remain the same whether five people are cycled through CPH's day surgery center or 25 people.  So if the hospital loses these profitable patients to Kahtnu, who will the hospital turn to in order to keep the lights on?  That's right.  Us.
Personally, I am very proud of our hospital.  When you consider our relatively small population, we are blessed to have a wide array of physicians who serve us along with gifted, dedicated nursing and support staff.

I sincerely hope that the hospital and these eight physicians will bury the hatchet and negotiate with each other in good faith in order to hammer out a plan that meets their mutual needs as well as the public's needs.

Supporting Kahtnu surgical center would be the equivalent of knee-capping Central Peninsula Hospital. Please contact Karen Lawfer at karen.lawfer@alaska.gov and let her know how you feel about this.

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