Health

Starkman: Hey Whitmer, Nessel, Dingell and Tlaib -- Ohio Leaders put you to shame on Beaumont merger


July 18, 2020, 5:15 PM
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AG Dana Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have been silent.

The writer, a Los Angeles freelancer, is a former Detroit News business reporter who blogs at Starkman Approved.

By Eric Starkman

Are you familiar with Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur? If you live in southeastern Michigan, you should know about the Ohio congresswoman and her record. Kaptur is the sort of leader Metro Detroit so desperately needs. 

Kaptur represents Ohio’s Ninth Congressional District, which includes her native Toledo and the northern reaches of the Buckeye State. She is the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. House and ranks among the most senior current members. Kaptur’s impressive accomplishments are too extensive to list here, but check out her congressional page and you’ll quickly learn why northern Ohioans have been so well-served by their longtime public servant.


Rep. Marcy Kaptur: "Decisions of this magnitude require careful consideration."

Despite her prominence in Washington, Kaptur is very much on top of local issues in her district, where she lives in the modest Toledo home she grew up in. One of those issues was a decision by the University of Toledo Medical Center to put out a request for proposals to sell its teaching hospital. 

Kaptur weighed in quickly and fiercely. Michigan’s leaders should learn from Kaptur’s unequivocal denouncement of even a possible sale. 

“Decisions of this magnitude require careful consideration, transparency, oversight and input from the community. The sale of northwest Ohio’s only public hospital during a public health emergency in my view would not only be a mistake, but a moral injustice.”

Ohio’s attorney general also took news of the possible ownership transfer quite seriously, letting it be known the agency would scrutinize the sale

The Toledo region also is blessed with local leaders who care about their local teaching hospital. Among them is former Toledo mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who initiated a local movement called “Save UTMC.” 

Here’s what Finkebeiner said about the importance of preserving the university’s ownership of UTMC:

“When you have in your community only one of two hospitals in the state of Ohio . . . where healing, teaching and research are going on, you want to nestle that to your bosom.”

Long story short: The University of Toledo and its board of trustees have indefinitely withdrawn the “For Sale” sign on the school’s medical center.

And the Toledo Blade, one of the few remaining locally owned U.S. newspapers, Saturday called on Gov. Mike DeWine to scrutinize a partnership deal UTMC signed five years ago with another Ohio health care network that allegedly crippled the university hospital’s finances. 

Beaumont Health, a not-for-profit company, is considerably larger than UTMC and its Royal Oak, Troy and Grosse Pointe hospitals rank among the top tier in the country. John Fox, the accountant who oversees Beaumont, recently announced plans to merge the company with a giant out of state health care company whose hospitals reputationally don’t hold a candle to Beaumont’s. Studies show that hospital mergers result in higher patient costs and don’t lead to improved patient care. 

Fox also wants to sell Beaumont’s not-for-profit ambulance division to a for-profit company in Chicago. 

Where's the Concern? 

Beaumont is imploding, with many of the hospital company’s most prominent specialist groups resigning or actively looking to practice elsewhere. Staff shortages because of extensive layoffs have so impaired Beaumont Royal Oak that surgeries this week were delayed or cancelled because there was insufficient support staff to sterilize equipment. Morale is horrific and once proud and loyal employees privately say they wouldn’t entrust Beaumont with the medical care of their families. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s public statement on Beaumont’s sale and implosion?

Crickets.

Atty. Gen. Dana Nessel’s statement on Beaumont’s sale and implosion?

Crickets.

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Rep. Debbie Dingell

Rep. Debby Dingell’s statement on Beaumont’s sale and implosion?

Crickets.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s statement on Beaumont’s sale and implosion?

Crickets.

Statements from local business and union leaders on Beaumont’s sale and implosion?

Crickets. Crickets. 

Reporting and editorials on Beaumont’s sale and implosion from the Free Press and News?

Crickets. Crickets. 

There you have it, Michigan. The future of the state’s biggest hospital system is at stake and the sounds of silence are all that can be heard. 

It’s said that people get the government and leadership they deserve. Michigan residents should be asking themselves why their Ohio counterparts are deserving of more formidable and responsible political and business leadership.

Reach Eric Starkman at eric@starkmanapproved.com. Beaumont employees and vendors are encouraged to reach out, with confidentiality assured. 

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