4 Kansas physicians resign from hospital over CEO salary, medical interaction concerns

Four Meade (Kan.) District Hospital physicians with concerns about the CEO's leadership and salary left the hospital, according to local news reports from KSCB and KAKE.

The medical staff had previously taken issue with CEO Tara Ramlochan's half-million-dollar salary and her medical interactions with patients. Ms. Ramlochan is a nurse by training and joined the health system as the interim chief nursing officer in 2018 before being promoted to CEO.

The four physicians who resigned in September previously brought their concerns to the hospital's executive board, but their issues were not addressed. The former Meade District Hospital physicians aren't the only physicians to leave their hospital in the past few months; Southfield, Mich.-based Beaumont Health has also seen recent physician departures, which prompted more than 20 donors to send a letter to the board on Sept. 18 requesting action to address the clinical staff's concerns.

A survey of physicians and nurses raised issues with Beaumont's proposed merger with Advocate Aurora Health and have been unnerved by medical staff loss. The letter asked hospital leaders to postpone the transaction until the clinicians' concerns were addressed.

In another example, Zachary Sussman, MD, formerly of Physicians Premier ER, underwent a COVID-19 antibody test from his employer in May and was billed $10,984 a visit that included the test. While his insurance paid the bill, Dr. Sussman was shaken by the amount charged and resigned.

"I have decided I can no longer ethically provide medical directorship services to the company," he wrote in his July 13 resignation email, according to ProPublica. "If not outright fraudulent, these charges are at least exorbitant and seek to take advantage of payers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic."

The pandemic is also placing stress on hospital-based physicians, especially those most at risk of contracting the virus. Some are retiring or leaving the hospital to avoid exposure to COVID-19, according to The Washington Post. Michael Peck, MD, an anesthesiologist, retired in April after a 12-hour shift intubating COVID-19 patients.

"I've never been this scared," he told The Post. "When it was over, I said to myself, 'This is crazy. I'm done.'…The environment was frightening."

ASCs offer an alternative to hospitals for physicians weary of contracting the infection since surgery centers don't treat COVID-19 patients.

In January, eight emergency room physicians quit Chicago-based Community First Medical Center over safety concerns related to supply shortages, staffing issues and equipment problems. The physicians then joined Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Centers in Evergreen Park, Ill.

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