Doctors blast Beaumont Health's administrators in survey

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

The vast majority of 1,555 Beaumont Health physicians who filled out a Survey Monkey questionnaire indicated they are wary of a proposed merger with an out-of-state hospital system and have little confidence in the health system's leadership. 

More than three-quarters of doctors who responded strongly or somewhat disagreed with the statement, "I have confidence in corporate leadership," while 13% somewhat or strongly agreed. The remaining 11% were neutral.

Southfield-based Beaumont Health has proposed merging with an out-of-state health system based in Illinois and Wisconsin.

The survey respondents represent more than 30% of the about 5,000 physicians who work for the eight-hospital health system based in Southfield. It was not a random sampling as all of the system's doctors were invited to participate in the survey, according to a Beaumont Health physician who signed an earlier no-confidence petition in the health system and didn't want to be identified for fear of reprisal.

The survey was launched earlier this summer by the Council of Elected Medical Staff Leaders at the health system.  It coincided with a separate petition circulating among doctors that calls on Beaumont's 16-member board of directors to fire CEO John Fox and Chief Medical Officer David Wood Jr. The survey results were presented to the board last week, one doctor said.  

The petition drive and survey were launched after Beaumont Health signed a non-binding letter of intent in mid-June to join with not-for-profit Advocate Aurora Health, based in Downer's Grove, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The proposed merger with Beaumont, which is Michigan's largest health care system, would create a health system spanning three states.

Almost 70% of physicians who participated appeared to oppose the merger with Advocate Aurora Health by somewhat or strongly disagreeing with the statement that "the proposed merger of Beaumont Health with Advocate Aurora Health is likely to enhance our capacity to provide compassionate extraordinary care." About 9% who responded somewhat or strongly agreed and the remainder were neutral.

Beaumont Health leaders have defended the benefits of the proposed deal, saying the merger would lead to an investment of $100 million in technology among the three health systems. Metro Detroit patients would benefit from tens of millions of dollars in medical technology to monitor public health and chronic health conditions, Beaumont leaders say.

"Our physicians provided valuable input and feedback to us through the survey. We take our physicians’ responses seriously, and we have already started addressing many of their concerns," Beaumont Health spokesman Mark Geary said in a Wednesday statement emailed to The Detroit News. 

"We know our talented and skilled physicians, nurses and staff have helped to make Beaumont the region’s leading health system and they are also key to our future," the statement continued. 

"Our caregivers truly live our mission of providing compassionate, extraordinary care, every day. We recognize the importance of having an open dialogue. That’s why we continue to meet with numerous groups of physicians, nurses and staff to listen to them, address their concerns and work together with them to determine the best path forward for Beaumont."

Twitter: @kbouffardDN