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Regarding Jan. 16 article "The Whistleblower:" Difficult, unhealthy situation that can be viewed as an end result of the de-evolution of our medical system.

After World War II, President Truman promoted a single payer-like system that was rejected by the American Medical Association and American Hospital Association because it would "make doctors slaves" to the system. The term slave is obviously out of proportion but I, myself, would rather answer to a government agency in which there is an emphasis on population health rather than a business model where the emphasis is on profit and influence. It is far healthier for a person and society to think of others and community rather than self and power.

In our medical system, resources follow the money. Rural hospitals, like Mad River, have a difficult time breaking even. Most rural hospitals lose money on obstetrics while orthopedic expertise pays the bills. Although there are true orthopedic emergencies, the consequences of perinatal emergencies can have devastating human and financial effects. Is a total joint in a well-off Baby Boomer truly worth more than a well-staffed OB department? This is a system flaw with many local manifestations. 

I have a lot of respect for those in the medical profession that take call. Surgeons, OR/cath lab crews, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, intensivists, OB providers and others have been taking care of our community forever and then trying to make it through the next day. Dr. Ervin has been one of those providers. Dr. Bruce Barker is one of these providers. Both are dedicated, effective and human physicians that deserve respect and our appreciation. 

When profit becomes our primary goal, our motivation is skewed, our interactions become antagonistic and our ability to work together as a respectful team is undermined. 

Andrew Hooper, Arcata


As president of the Humboldt Del Norte County Medical Society Executive Board, we wish to express concern for the physicians mentioned in the Jan. 16, article by Thadeus Greenson, "The Whistleblower."

While transparency in medicine has significant benefits for the social contract healers make with the community and individual persons, it is not always easily achievable.

It is likewise not always possible to understand the full scope of activities that occur when evaluating medical skill and ongoing competency when being viewed from the non-physician perspective.

Patients are caught in the middle of an ever-changing landscape without a clear direction or ultimate goal. Physicians are also stuck in this quagmire of the infringement of physician autonomy, the loss of private practices, the growth of large healthcare systems, the increasing reliance on federal subsidized care through federally qualified health centers, the rise of professional medical student loan debt, the non-reimbursed mandates for overwhelming complex electronic medical record systems and their lack of functional interoperability, the emphasis on outcome-based reimbursements with insufficient funding for redress of the social determinants that affect the health of our patients.

We would love to see an annual Humboldt Del Norte Health Care Forum to educate and engage all community members in transforming the stability of our physician recruitment and improving our health care outcomes.

We hope that all of our physicians will be able to find a resolution that allows us to retain their skill, knowledge and service in this community.

Stephanie S. Dittmer, Fortuna


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