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6 Investigates Follows Up: Christus Spohn – ‘Life and death, with a fiscal undertone’

Posted: 5:09 PM, May 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-27 14:00:17-04

The President of the 800-member Nueces County Medical Society on Thursday questioned not only the wisdom of Christus Spohn’s decision to change anesthesia service providers, but also the system’s unwillingness to be up-front with the community about it.

Dr. Justin Hensley tells 6 Investigates he’s been in contact with physicians all over the nation since 6 Investigates’ initial report on Wednesday night. He says none of them have ever heard of EmergencHealth, either.

"They came up with the same information you got – a web page that’s being built – a doctor that shows up on the TMB website license search as a pulmonary critical care doctor and that’s about it."

But more than that, Hensley says the decision, one Spohn has consistently declined to discuss with us, reflects the new normal in healthcare, where physicians are often seen as free-agents, rather than long-term team members.

"They’re seeing physicians as replaceable, interchangeable entities and, on a whim, they can say ‘This group of doctors no longer needs to be part of us, we’re gonna get a new group of doctors.’"

And the driving force behind this trend?

"Money."

But a healthier bottom line for the hospital may come at a price: an unhealthy shift in relationships between key members of the medical staff.

"It’s like a dance partner," Hensley says. "If you know which step they’re going to take, you can anticipate that. If you have no idea which way they’re going, you’re not going to dance well."

"It’s life and death, with a fiscal undertone."

Spohn’s internal memo announcing the shift suggests they’re going to try and lure those displaced by the decision over to Emergenc. Hensley says it’s not that simple.

"(The physicians) have their own ethical concerns about what’s going on."