MERCY Health Partners CEO sends a public memorandum

Jeffrey A. Ashin 
                President and CEO, Mercy Health Partners 

For more than 80 years, the physicians, nurses and staff at Mercy Health Partners have provided the best in compassionate, state-of-the art care to the people of East Tennessee.  Unfortunately, this morning, our local newspaper chose to turn what, at best, should have been a minor mention in the Business or Health sections of the paper into a front page story which has not only cast an inaccurate and insulting shadow on the good work of the physicians and associates who have dedicated their lives to our ministry but, equally importantly, has created unwarranted concern among our patients and their families.  It would be difficult for me to express in words the depths of my frustration with the decisions made by the staff and leadership at the News Sentinel.  Rest assured that I have spoken on your behalf with the Publisher of the paper and he is aware of our position. 

Mercy facilities, like all healthcare facilities in the United States, are inspected on a regular basis by many regulatory agencies at the local, state and national levels.  When concerns are identified, agency and hospital officials work together to address the issues identified and then make whatever changes are necessary to insure the health and safety of all patients. 

In the case referred to in this morning’s News Sentinel, officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, during an inspection of patient records, found an instance in which two “process errors” occurred in the care of one of our patients–neither of which resulted in any injury to the patient.  Following standard procedure, Mercy officials were notified of CMS’s concerns and we are taking steps to immediately address the errors in question.  We have no doubt that we will be able to put into place procedures that will minimize the chances of these types of issues reoccurring in the future.  Let me say emphatically that there is absolutely no reason for us to believe that our Medicare funding is in jeopardy, despite the implication of this morning’s News Sentinel article. 

Incidentally, CMS initiates this type of action at hospitals throughout the country each year and I salute them for being diligent in their duty to insure the safest possible care in our nation’s healthcare facilities.  I also need to say that we take the issues identified by CMS very seriously and will redouble our efforts to remain as error-free as possible. 

We now have two choices:  we can spend our energy being frustrated at the decisions made by our local newspaper this morning or we can re-focus on providing the best possible care of body mind and spirit to our patients and their families.  My suggestion is that we take the latter course, attending to the needs of our patients and providing them with the best care available anywhere, just as we have for over eight decades.   

Thank you for all that you do for Mercy and all our patients each day.  Let’s go back to work!