Let Them Eat Cake! (In somebody else’s hospital.)

I have been reviewing all of the letters sent to the Courier-Journal by members of the community.  So far, without exception, all have been employees, faculty, or associated with one of one of the proposed partner institutions, or capital venture company that benefits from the University’s commercial research program.  One of these letters is particularly painful to me.

It was written by a medical student who has not yet even begun his clinical training.  It begins by parroting an assortment of the arguments that have been made by the University and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s almost as if the letter were from a University official.    Nonetheless, even a medical student deserves to have their voice heard, and perhaps especially a medical student, whose training will be very much affected by the proposed change in business structure.  The last sentence however broke my heart.  When speaking about the women’s health policy regarding tubal ligations, the writer concludes, “patients who don’t want to deal with it can always choose to go elsewhere.”  This is one of the most unfeeling  comments I have seen with respect to this proposed merger/acquisition.  I hope someone has taken the student aside and counseled them. Alas, perhaps not the two faculty leaders who also wrote regarding end-of life care, “When the stipulations of the Catholic Church make it difficult to follow the patients’s and families wishes, the patient can be transferred to another facility where the desires of the patient and family can be met.”

I hope the student above can bring more sympathy to the patients he may have the privilege of attending to in the future.  Perhaps as he learns to take a medical and social history from those patients he will learn that in fact these patients do not have a choice of going elsewhere.  That is the whole point!  Shame on the University of Louisville School of Medicine, its leadership, and its faculty for creating an environment where such a statement is thought justifiable by your student.  The privilege of caring for the indigent must be earned.  In past months, the University of Louisville has in my opinion abused that privilege.  The majority of the patients, students, trainees, and employees of the proposed merged entity are not Roman Catholic, yet their most intimate personal decisions are now subject to review by somebody else’s bishop.   How can that stand?

Peter Hasselbacher, MD
Dec 5, 2011