Southampton CEO responds

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 9, 2007

To the Editor:

In their recent correspondence, Mr. and Mrs. Bryant voice concerns about a letter they received from their physician indicating that he would no longer be seeing patients at Southampton Memorial Hospital.

We share the Bryants’ disappointment. In fact, the hospital has worked diligently for several months with the doctor referenced in their letter and with the larger physician group with which he is associated. It has been the hospital’s desire to increase the group’s presence at our hospital.

Despite the best efforts of both our management team and the physicians on our medical executive committee, this specialist group has steadily decreased their presence at SMH and has recently reduced their time at the hospital to only one day per week — often leaving patients like the Bryants without adequate access to specialty care. We do appreciate the group’s past service, and we did encourage them to maintain their one-day-a-week coverage at SMH.

I would like to share information about new specialty coverage. Dr. Assad Assadnia returns to practice in mid-November and will serve urology patients in the office and hospital three days per week. Additionally, SMH is working with Dr. Richard Graham and Dr. Sam Graham to provide office hours one day per week, which will ultimately provide four days of urological coverage for the citizens of Franklin, Southampton County and surrounding areas.

Physician recruiting and retention is an enormous challenge for hospitals — particularly for facilities located in smaller and rural communities. SMH faces the additional challenge of having several dedicated physicians who are planning retirement in the near future. Fortunately, we have a committed board and medical executive committee who work diligently to help recruit and retain highly trained, compassionate caregivers to our area. In the coming 12 months we will be welcoming seven new physicians to our medical staff:

– Dr. Kelly Piland, Emergency Medicine (started at the hospital);

– Dr. Denise Harrison, Emergency Medicine (started);

– Dr. Assad Assadnia, Urology (November);

– Dr. Greg Johnson, General Surgeon (November);

– Dr. Maurice Young, Obstetrics / Gynecology (May ‘08)

– Dr. Anrae Applewhite, Pediatrics (July ‘08)

– Dr. Donald Bowling, Family Practice (July ‘08)

While I regret that the Bryants have been frustrated with their experiences at Southampton Memorial, I want to assure them and everyone in the community that the management, board and medical staff leadership at the hospital is working diligently to provide the residents of Franklin, Southampton County and surrounding areas with the best possible health care.

In addition to the thousands of patients we care for every year, we are the largest employer in the City of Franklin, providing more than 420 jobs and contributing approximately $540,000 every year in local taxes.

We have invested more than $27 million in capital projects since 2000. Perhaps of greatest significance, we also provide $1.5 million in annual charity care to individuals who could not otherwise afford care.

I have already spoken with Mr. Bryant and plan to continue reaching out to the Bryants to learn more about their thoughts and experiences at SMH. I invite anyone with comments or concerns to contact me directly: My telephone number is (757) 569-6128. I thank all of those citizens who support the hospital and welcome any constructive discussions about how we can make your care and treatment better every day.

Sean T. Dardeau,

Chief Executive Officer, Southampton Memorial Hospital