Letter: Don't take doctors from children

The Detroit News

Before my appointment as chair of the Wayne State University Department of Pediatrics two and a half years ago, I was proudly associated with Children’s Hospital of Michigan for about 42 years in a variety of positions, including serving as its chief operating officer and then as president/CEO for a decade.

Since the mid-19th century, this hospital is where concerned families have taken their children for diagnosis, treatment and care by its specialty physicians who, for the past 50 years or more, were predominantly Wayne State Department of Pediatrics faculty members.

Dr. Herman Gray

Tragically, the quality of care at CHM is now at risk, as the relationship that strengthened both the hospital and the medical school is in jeopardy. The Detroit Medical Center, owned by the for-profit, Dallas-based company Tenet Healthcare Corp., is evicting outstanding Wayne State pediatric faculty physicians from the place they practice and separating them from the patients they serve.

This harms the physicians and the School of Medicine, but more importantly it denies many of the children and families of Detroit and southeast Michigan access to their own doctors who have practiced in CHM, some for decades.

Why would Tenet do this?

We posed that question to the DMC’s chief executive officer and got a response from the high-priced Jones Day law firm in Washington, D.C., telling us to direct all future correspondence regarding the matter to it, ending direct discussion with DMC leadership.

This is about money and control.

Banning WSU pediatricians from Children’s Hospital creates a monopoly for the University Pediatricians group, which, rather than negotiate with the university, chose to leave Wayne State and affiliate with Central Michigan University, located 155 miles from the children and city of Detroit.

The only apparent reason for DMC/Tenet to enforce an exclusivity clause with UP is to exclude WSU faculty doctors. There is no efficiency or quality to be gained by this.

The DMC will not talk with us, so we had no choice but to file a complaint with the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations over CHM’s apparent switch from an “open hospital” to a closed system that appears closed only to Wayne Pediatrics physicians.

If WSU doctors could continue to work beside their UP colleagues, as they now do, CHM would benefit financially, and from the experience of the WSU faculty as well as their long-term relationships with patients. If this eviction stands, CHM will lose the specialists that care for children and young adults with HIV/AIDS as an example, and many other talented pediatricians.

Herman Gray, M.D., M.B.A.; chair, Wayne State University Department of Pediatrics; a former president and CEO of the DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan