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By: Dr. Andy O’Shaughnessy

An open letter to my physician colleagues within Lutheran Health Network:

Respectfully, this letter will not be for everyone. Physicians are a diverse group in both thought and action. However, in talking with many of you on a one-to-one basis over the last two months, it is clear that the vast majority of the Lutheran Health Network-centric physicians are of the same mind – that our ability to deliver quality health care via the Lutheran Health Network has been negatively impacted for the last four years, and that this adverse environment has only accelerated in its pace of decline this year.

Whether it be the archaic and dysfunctional EMR (electronic medical record) system, the limited and overworked operating room staff, the poorly staffed, overworked, underpaid and generally demoralized nurses, or most recently the threatening and firing of our own and valued colleagues (high quality cardiovascular surgeons and chief medical officers are exceedingly difficult to replace), the situation is critical and must change.

Ten of our colleagues took the initiative to change this situation and attempted to bring back the pride, honor and, frankly, the safety to the health care product we are all attempting to deliver, but there is only so much a handful of people can do.

CHS management has, as expected, pushed back against this force of change. The pushback began with misleading and dishonest press releases and then shifted to the silencing of our 10 colleagues and firing of several more.

These tactics in no way change the underlying premise that we the medical staff can and need to do a better job for our patients and our community. The delivering of a better product can only start with a fundamental belief that we, the physicians, carry the torch of change.

This is and must be a grassroots effort, participated in by each and every one of us. We are the leaders. Our nurses, administrators, support staff, and most importantly our patients and community expect this of us. And now more than ever, they need us to act.

To that end, I am not asking for money, and I will not ask for yet another meeting. I am only asking that if you believe, as I do, that CHS misunderstands the culture and ethos of our network, then act. If you believe, as I do, that silencing our 10 colleagues is an unacceptable response to valid concerns, then act. If you believe, as I do, that removing our highly skilled clinical and administrative staff creates real safety concerns for our patients, then act.

I simply ask that you not become complacent. Please do not accept the status quo. Each of you, as an LHN physician, carries a very proud and honored tradition that countless physicians for the last 139 years also have carried. Please use all of your power and creativity to protect and shepherd Lutheran Healthcare Network for this community for the next 139 years.

Dr. Andy O’Shaughnessy is a Fort Wayne physician.