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Editor’s Note:  After receiving former City Commissioner Harry Bethel’s open letter to Governor Scott [below] we reached out to the Lower Keys Medical Center for comment.  The following is the statement we subsequently received from LKMC spokesperson Randy Detrick:

“Lower Keys Medical Center is committed to providing our patients with the medical services and care they need. We encourage any patient who has concerns to contact us directly so that we can investigate and take action as needed for resolution.

Any identified issues in Mr. Bethel’s letter will be addressed in consultation with the hospital’s community Board of Trustees and the Medical Executive Committee in accordance with hospital by-laws. We have reached out to Mr. Bethel and the patients named in his correspondence seeking an opportunity to visit with them in person about their concerns.

 Our hospital is committed to complying with all federal, state and local laws, rules, regulations and requirements.”

Dear Governor Scott,

Enclosed you will find a copy of a letter which I prepared about my concerns over our healthcare in southern Monroe County. When I wrote this letter I was not aware of other possible more troubling matters within the medical community but I will talk about those in a minute.

To make certain that my letter was addressed by the Lower Keys Hospital District Board which you appoint, I attended a meeting on March 14th held by that Board. I was not prepared for the disrespect and confrontational tone in which I, physicians, and members of the community would be attacked. At that meeting Administrator Nickki Will, Dr. Lockwood, Dr. Atilla and Dr. Herrera came in and tried to belittle and embarrass members of the public who came to address your Board about our experiences. Dr. Atilla and Dr. Herrera actually called the public “liars” about incidents [that occurred while] the public members or their family were present but [which were] event[s] at which neither Dr. Atilla or Dr. Herrera were present.

I stand by my letter and still do not feel my questions have been answered. Instead we were all told that the proper way to complain about the hospital is to contact their patient advocate or the administrator’s office. However every person who attended that meeting on March 14th stated their calls to both of these advocates had never been answered.

Very upsetting was the intention that Dr. Atilla declared that his ER doctor contractors plan to bring charges before the medical committee against a local doctor to shut down his license. The incident that caused this was totally laid out in the meeting. Yet the story Dr. Atilla told, completely differs from what the Boegofff family told and they were present for the entire event because their mother was the patient. I have now discovered that Dr. Atilla put together the emergency room doctor contract and he is scheduled to become the next president of the local medical committee. So Dr. Atilla will have the decision making power to actually charge any doctor who questions his emergency room doctors or the hospital doctors who he apparently has instructed to not call the patients primary doctors. He may also be controlling who gets referrals for the follow-up care on patients who go to the hospital. Is any of this even legal?

With this position as medical president Dr. Atilla will automatically sit on the private hospital board. Then in that capacity he gets to charge a doctor as the president and then by sitting on the hospital administration board he will be able to make the ultimate decision on a doctor’s discipline. To top things off, Dr. Atilla and Dr. Herrera have not even spoken with the patients, their family members or even the nurses who witnessed the incident to get a complete understanding of what supposedly happened before accusing a doctor of wrong doing.

At the meeting Dr. Atilla tried to gloss over the fact that the emergency room doctors had not been accepting Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance for 11 months. He blames it on credentials. Well then why did he bring doctors into our community who did not have the right credentials and how was it that all of a sudden all the problems with Blue Cross Blue Shield are suddenly resolved the same day Dr. Atilla attends the hospital board meeting.

The entire meeting was the biggest display of disrespect and complete disregard for the public that I have ever witnessed. Thinking back on how ugly that meeting became my only explanation is that there is absolutely no oversight of the operations of our community hospital. Also there is clearly no communications between doctors, administration, the public and the Board that you appoint to represent the community’s best interest.

Governor Scott, what is being allowed to occur within this community is very troubling. I ask you to have it investigated and appoint a moderator to work through all these items.

Sincerely,

Harry Bethel

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