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Format: 04/16/2014
Format: 04/16/2014


An Open Letter: Patients First

Monday, August 1st, 2011

The airwaves and pages of our daily newspapers are brimming with coverage of the greatest healthcare debate this region has experienced in at least a generation: namely, UPMC’s refusal to negotiate a contract with Highmark that would undoubtedly benefit the community. The running point-counterpoint about the merits and dangers of competition in the healthcare delivery system is having a profound impact on patients, physicians, business leaders and all who are touched by the system in one way or another.
The debate has been dominated by voices of spokespersons and legal “experts” that are channeling corporate messages. We believe it is important to elevate our voices above the cacophony. We are physicians and we are residents of the region, employees, teachers and healthcare consumers. We care for our patients, families, neighbors, colleagues and occasionally sports superstars, politicians and business titans. Regardless of their place in the world, each of our patients receives the same high standard of quality, personalized care.
Patient-focused care is a hallmark of the West Penn Allegheny Health System, whose hospitals were the only ones in the region to have recently been named among the best in the country by both Thomson Reuters and U.S. News & World Report. We’re proud to be honored by U.S. News, a source trusted by many patients, and Thomson Reuters, which bases their accolades entirely on objective clinical data, rather than being a popularity contest.
As a community of doctors employed by West Penn Allegheny Health System, we are experiencing a rejuvenated sense of mission among our colleagues and our teams of caregivers since the announcement of our affiliation with Highmark. Our doctors are engaged; they know that the future of this System is in their hands, that they are valued, and that West Penn Allegheny is a vibrant alternative to the system across town.
Although optimism is rippling through our corridors, we are still saddened to see what we believe to be the ongoing monopolistic behavior being displayed by our largest competitor. Patients have been warned about disruption in care that will result from UPMC’s refusal to contract with Highmark. This is not new to us at West Penn Allegheny. In fact, many of us have been unable to care for longtime patients because UPMC Health Plan refuses to contract with our hospitals in spite of our willingness to find ways to work together for the good of the patient.
Despite offers of excessive monetary advances from our competition, the vast majority of West Penn Allegheny physicians choose to remain with, or are attracted to, West Penn Allegheny because they are true to their calling: patient care, research, training future generations of providers, or all three. Of course, we have colleagues across the region who are equally dedicated to outstanding patient care day in and day out, and we believe they should have access to all hospitals for their patients, regardless of insurance or the doctor’s personal employment choice.
The bottom line is patient care, not profits. Therefore, we join Highmark in calling for a neutral third-party mediator to achieve a new contract between Highmark and UPMC. Without question, uninterrupted patient care must be the highest priority in the resolution of this business arrangement between these two non-profits.
We are proud to be part of West Penn Allegheny Health System, fulfilling our patient-focused promise every day. We are equally proud to join Highmark in establishing a fully integrated health and wellness system for all people in western Pennsylvania. Our doors are open to all patients.
Tony Farah, MD
Thomas Campbell, MD
Patrick DeMeo, MD
Elliot Goldberg, MD
Robert Guthrie, MD
Hae Dong Jho, MD
William Johnjulio, MD
Paul Kiproff, MD
George Magovern, Jr., MD
Susan Manzi, MD
Donald Moorman, MD
Van Nickell, MD
David Parda, MD
Eugene Scioscia, MD
Eileen Segreti, MD
Jan Silverman, MD
James Valeriano, MD
Jack Wilberger, MD
West Penn Allegheny Health System
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