THE REAL PRICE OF HEALTHCARE is of concern to all of us in America, but perhaps even more so in McKean County. We used to have a true community hospital with a board populated by real businessmen with the interest of the people in their minds. It was because their families lived here and were serviced by the hospital. Their children were born there and many of their parents took their last breaths there. That was before George Lenhart and his hand-picked board with their multi-million dollar expansions that drove the facility into bankruptcy. Enter the pseudo executives and creative accountants, not looking to serve the community, but rather cut costs and strip services so they can begin peeling off profits and bonuses for themselves. They called themselves Upper Allegheny Health System.
They arrived in 2009 promising to enhance the ability of both Bradford Regional Medical Center and Olean General Hospital to respond to the challenges of the healthcare environment of the day through increased scale and support. They went on to promise to ensure that both hospitals were going to be positioned to honor their missions of care and service to the residents of northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York. Many of us have already found out the hard way this has not been the case.
The Upper Alleghney Healthcare Board, headed by Tim Finian, cut jobs and services and betrayed their promises. It took less than eight years for them to sell their interests to Kaleida Health in Buffalo and suddenly our only hospital has become a part of an enormous conglomerate that sees our healthcare as a line on a corporate balance sheet.
The Buffalo based
Kaleida Health bided its time through 2017 and 2018,
but effective June 2019
those who belong to UPMC Healthcare
will be required to pay cash when they are being treated locally.
Following the initial proposal in 2014, Upper Allegheny Healthcare and its member organizations — Bradford (Pa.) Regional Medical Center and Olean (N.Y) General Hospital —were to become part of Kaleida Health, but were supposed to remain separate, legal entities with their own boards of directors. The New York State Department of Health and the state’s Health Planning Council approved the transaction, and Timothy Finan, president and CEO of UAHS, submitted the same plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Federal Trade Commission. Mr. Finan called the move an affiliation, however the affiliation has now morphed into a total acquisition with Kaleida Health, not a locally based board, calling the shots.
What Jody Lomeo, president and CEO of Kaleida Health, called “… another positive step forward…” with a “…goal to continue to support and serve the southern tier and northwestern Pennsylvania communities…” has finally exposed itself as a massive corporate lie and has become a sellout the likes of which the area has not seen since NAFTA closed local factories and sent jobs to Mexico.
Suddenly, without any warning
and effective June 2019,
area residents either belong to Kaleida Health,
and if not they must pay cash when they are treated
(AND WHO IS ABLE TO DO THAT?),
or they can seek help at a facility that will accept UPMC coverage.
Kaleida Health is enormous. It is the largest employer across the Western New York area employing over 5,000 people. It controls over seventy medical facilities, but is not exactly what it might appear to be. While it has silently, with the covert help of our Million Dollar Hospital Administrator, Timothy J. Finian, absorbed our hospital, it is in fact part of the Great Lakes Health System, an entity comprised of Kaleida Health, the SUNY at Buffalo, ECMC, and The Center for Hospice & Palliative Care. They are the largest healthcare network in Western New York, and while that might be impressive to some, I am forced to remember Doctor, and later Senator Bill Frist, and his brother Tom, who was chairman and chief executive of Hospital Corporation of America. Then of course, there is also Governor of Florida (HCA), and incumbent Senator Rick Scott.
Scott and his association with Columbia Hospital Corporation that later affiliated and merged with the Frist founded Hospital Corporation of America. to form Columbia/HCA should be raising red flags to anyone with an appreciation of history. Sure, Columbia/HCA was a for-profit corporation while Great Lakes Health System and Kaleida Health all operate under the auspices of being non-profit, but non-profit for whom? Certainly not the executives!
Finian’s Rainbow as CEO and president of Upper Allegheny Healthcare consists of a salary of over a million dollars, an expense account he approves himself, a company car and gas credit card, and a house owned and paid for, including all utilities, by UAHC. and they are not-for-profit!
Rick Scott lived the good life, too. He was paid millions of dollars in salary along with so many other executives, including Tom Frist. Bill Frist reaped massive stock gains, generous and lucrative dividends from his stock, along with his pay and expense account as a board member, even as he held his seat in the Senate.
What’s the difference?
How is it so-called not-for-profits
are allowed to divert so much money
away from real healthcare?
Where is the Board
and whose interests
do they protect?
When Scott was pressured to resign as chief executive of Columbia/HCA it came out that during his tenure as chief executive, the company defrauded Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs. When the Department of Justice fined the company in what was at the time the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history entire communities lost their hospitals and healthcare. Scott and Frist were never charged with any crimes and Scott followed in the steps of Frist going into politics — first as governor and now on to the Senate. Executives walked away with their enormous salaries safely tucked away, while local communities were abandoned and forced back to the formative days of when they founded their community hospital to care for area residents.
I seriously doubt the distinguished members of the UAHC Board were aware of the grand plan of acquisition. I cannot believe they agreed to allow our community hospital to be absorbed into the Great Lakes Health System. No! I do not believe that for a minute. I also do not believe that when Mr. Finian submitted the proposal to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Federal Trade Commission, the grand plan that has now evolved was thoroughly explained to local board members, and perhaps not even to the two legal entities. I cannot imagine the Pennsylvania Department of Health allowing it. Not for a moment!
It is a far cry
and a giant leap
I’ve tried to remain reasonable as I’ve researched and written this article. I’ve ignored gossip and rumors about Mr. Finian and focused on facts. I’ve tried to see the benefits the area has received since Mr. Finian arrived, but I am hard pressed to find any whatsoever!
Jobs that were in Bradford went to Olean. Other Bradford jobs were eliminated altogether. When you go to the hospital and other related hospital facilities you get a true sense of how understaffed they are. Olean became the premier hospital with Bradford coming along for the ride. That becomes obvious as Kaleida goes into Olean and forces itself down our throats.
We used to have an orthopedic surgeon at Bradford Hospital, but when I went to the ER with my broken leg, once they verified it was broken they referred me to a doctor in Olean and sent me home. When I contacted him he was too busy and sent me on to ECMC. That isn’t how it used to be and I say if we can pay Tim Finian a million dollars a year, we should not have to go to Buffalo to have a broken leg taken care of. It makes no sense to anyone except Mr. Finian as he goes to the bank.
You all know me. I am covered by Medicare and the VA, but I live here. My friends are being placed in a horrible situation and I promise you that this is far from over. There is still time before June.