North Broward Hospital District CEO Alan Levine wrote this letter to a district employee in response to this column that was published this week. The column -- about the travails of a man with no money, no insurance, and plenty of health problems -- details a scene where the district refuses to do potentially life-saving heart tests unless it gets payment of $1639 up front. The district employee who handled the situation was Annette Perez. The following is Levine's letter to her, which he cc'd to me:
I read the story by Bob Norman in the New Times this afternoon.
I think Bob touched on some very important issues related to the larger problem of access to health care in our country, although I think he may have missed some important issues relevant to this particular situation.
But I want to tell you the one thing that did touch me in his story was the part where he referred to the employee at North Broward Medical Center - YOU - as "pleasant".
You have a difficult job, Annette, and sometimes the best measure of who we are is how we deal with people we don't know in various and difficult situations. That day, you were faced with with a person who had tragic circumstances, and you
did it in a professional way. The problem of access to care is not yours to solve. But yet, you are faced with it every day.
Just know how much I appreciate you and the enormous value you are to our system. Please do not be discouraged by the fact your name was, without your permission, used in the story. Take it in stride, and know that you are appreciated.
Keep smiling, and keep making our patients' day a little bit better!
Overall, Levine's letter shows once again what an improvement he is over the previous schmuck who ran the organization. I agree the problems addressed in the column are foremost national ones, and we can quibble over the "important issues" that were missing, but it's obvious the guy cares.
The most interesting clause, though, to me, was "without your permission." I accompanied John Frey, the indigent patient, to the hospital and watched the scene go down. I didn't tell anyone at the hospital who I was because I wanted the interaction to be genuine. No permission needed, but I wonder how many people, including some weak-kneed reporters, would think there was some kind of obligation to announce my identity.