Monday, March 12, 2007

OSF's Attorney Responds to Haitian Hearts

Author: Dr. John A. Carroll
The Haitian mother pictured above lost her beautiful baby girl from a heart condition that could easily have been repaired by OSF’s physicians in Peoria. Below is the same mother just after the baby died.

Today, I received an e mail from OSF’s lawyer, Douglass Marshall.

Dr. Doug Schneider, referred to in the mail below by Mr. Marshall, is a pediatric cardiologist in Peoria who has always been an advocate for Haitian Hearts children. OSF has an “International Committee” composed of people who are controlled by people above them at OSF.

Even though the Committee knows that the correct moral, ethical, and medical decision would be to allow the Haitian Hearts kids to return to OSF, their opinions and decisions can definitely be swayed and overruled. There are no Sisters, priests, or laypeople on the “Committee”.

This is another inside job at OSF that Peoria’s public knows little about.

December 17, 2006

Mr. Marshall’s e mail to me:

OSF Saint Francis Medical Center has been contacted by Dr. Doug Schneider concerning a request by you for his medical group to treat one of your Haitian patients. The Hospital has informed him that it no longer has a relationship with Haitian Hearts.
Dr. Scneider was told that the Hospital continues to provide care to international patients, but now chooses to work with those who share in its desire to work in an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect.

The Hospital hopes that you will redirect your wasted time and effort to what is best for your patients: finding providers willing to work with you and them. There are many hospitals in Illinois, other than those operated by OSF.
Douglass A. Marshall
Attorney at Law
456 Fulton Street, Suite 298,
Peoria, Illinois, 61602-1220
Tel: 309-674-1025 Fax: 309-674-9328E-mail:

Mr. Marshall refers to an “atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect”. I ask Mr. Marshall if OSF worked in an atmosphere of “cooperation and mutual respect” when:

1. Keith Steffen, CEO at OSF-SFMC, stated that when he sees Haitian children “they make him want to vomit.” Was it appropriate for Mr. Steffen, prior to firing me, to tell people around the hospital that “John Carroll is a bad person”. Mr. Steffen smiled and told me multiple times in his administrative office “when this comes out about you, John, it won’t be good.” Mr. Steffen also referred to me as a “malignancy”. What did Mr. Steffen mean when he told my brother, “There is a side of John that you do not know.” Does it sound like Mr. Steffen was acting in an atmosphere of cooperation and respect when he planted seeds of doubt about my personal character to numerous people in the Peoria community who spoke with him? They told me what he was saying. Does it sound appropriate that Mr. Steffen told me that “fear is a good thing among OSF employees” and threatened to sue one of the nurses he spoke with in his office for starting a petition of support for me? Does this sound like good faith or good management skills by the CEO of one of Illinois largest Catholic hospitals?

2. Chris Lofgren, OSF spokesperson, finally admitted to me that he inappropriately spoke about me to another OSF employee while I was being fired. This OSF employee was very upset about Mr. Lofgren’s comments and his insinuations and came to my home several times to tell me about his statements. (When my brother and I met with Mr. Lofgren in his office, he smiled and said maybe Sister Canisia was spreading the rumors. We knew that was not the case. And amazingly Mr. Lofgren advised me to meet with Mr. Steffen saying he did not believe that I would be maligned further. I politely declined.)

3. While Mr. Steffen was saying that funds would be stopped for Haitian children in 2001, Mr. Lofgren was telling the Peoria Journal Star that the Haitian Hearts program would indeed continue, even after I was fired. During the same time period, Paul Kramer, Executive Director of Children’s Hospital of Illinois, wrote a letter to the Peoria community, which he did not sign but had a pediatric cardiologist’s wife sign, stating that OSF would continue their support of Haitian Hearts after I was fired. (He did not want to lose donations to Children’s Hospital of Illinois.) As Haitian Hearts anticipated, in July 2002, OSF cut off all financial support for Haitian Hearts while Haitian Hearts was donating $445,000 dollars to OSF during that very year. (Haitian Hearts has donated over 1.1 million dollars to OSF for Haitian surgeries.)

4. According to a pediatric cardiology nurse at OSF, Mr. Kramer delayed heart surgery for a sick Haitian child already in Peoria. I submitted a report for institutional negligence to the OSF Pediatric Resource Center and Mr. Kramer’s decision was overruled. The Haitian child was immediately placed on the schedule.

5. Mr. Kramer called the American Consulate in Haiti in 2002 dooming visas for Haitian Hearts patients to come to Peoria for surgery. Many Haitian kids would really suffer.

6. Mr. Kramer had Linda Arnold at OSF Foundation ask Rotary Club North for $12,500 dollars they had collected for OUTPATIENT expenses for Haitian children (medication, food, clothes, etc.). Mr. Kramer, via Ms. Arnold, adamantly demanded that the Rotary Club North funds be sent to Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Rotary Club North refused to do so. (Mr. Kramer had been part of the original discussions with Rotary Club North in his office and knew their donations would not go to Children’s Hospital of Illinois.) When Mr. Kramer was asked about this request for funds that were not meant for Children’s Hospital of Illinois, he responded that he was “just trying to help”.

7. Each year Caterpillar Foundation was donating $10,000 dollars to Haitian Hearts to go directly to Children’s Hospital of Illinois for inpatient care of Haitian kids. In 2001, according to OSF’s records, Caterpillar only donated $500 dollars for Haitian kids within the hospital. However, Mr. Holling’s secretary at Caterpillar Foundation told me that Caterpillar donated $15,000 dollars to OSF. Where did the remaining dollars to Haitian Hearts from Caterpillar end up? Did Children’s Hospital of Illinois direct the money away from Haitian Hearts kids? Even after I was fired, Mr. Holling at Caterpillar called me and told me that Caterpillar wanted to continue to support Haitian Hearts. I doubt that Mr. Holling was referring to donating only $500 dollars annually based on Caterpillar’s past generous contributions to Haitian Hearts.

8. As 2003 was ending, the community continued to donate to Haitian Hearts. Their donations would often end up at Children’s Hospital because donators thought that their contributions would help Haitian children obtain heart surgery somewhere. Haitian Hearts went to OSF Foundation and asked repeatedly where donated funds were for 2003. In December 2003, OSF sent Haitian Hearts a check for thousands of dollars signed by Keith Steffen. We do not know who donated these funds, we don’t know who to thank, we don’t know if we received all of the donations, and I don’t believe we would have ever received these funds from OSF Foundation if we had not persisted. (A physician donated several thousand dollars to Haitian Hearts; his generous donations never showed up on the Haitian Hearts donated list…where did his donations go?) OSF would not open their books completely for Lisa Madigan’s office, but a spokesperson from her office told me that OSF had “done us wrong”. (OSF-Children’s Hospital of Illinois sends letters and literature to people who have donated to Haitian Hearts soliciting funds for their new 234 million dollar complex which will include a new state of the art eight story Children’s Hospital. Haitian Hearts children have been banned from the new hospital that they helped build.) Does this seem like an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect, Mr. Marshall?

9. Mr. Marshall, OSF Attorney, told me in a letter several years ago that Hinshaw Culbertson may litigate against me if I continued to report Mr. Kramer’s behavior as above. (Hinshaw Culbertson is a huge national law firm that has unlimited resources. They represent many other powerful corporations around the nation.)

10. George Hevesy, MD was and is on the payroll of Advanced Medical Transport (AMT). He is director of the ED at OSF. OSF did not like that I publicly exposed this conflict of interest regarding care and transport of the prehospital patient in Peoria. Open and honest communication that OSF espouses in their Mission Statements is not always followed. (Interestingly, Mr. Marshall wears many different hats. He is OSF’s attorney, the Peoria Area Emergency Medical Systems attorney, and was AMT’s attorney several years ago near the time AMT was convicted by the U.S. Federal Government for Medicare fraud.)

11. OSF-ER was and is quite dysfunctional with inadequate OSF-SFMC bed capacity. Dr. Tim Miller, an OSF administrator told me in his office in 2001, that OSF had neglected the main campus (downtown) and poured money into the Center for Health where the insured patients go. I pointed this out with a letter to Mr. Steffen in 2001. I felt this was dangerous for patients in the ER as well as for pre hospital patients that were being diverted. OSF finally admitted to the problem in 2006.

12. The Catholic Health Care Religious and Ethical Directives written by the Catholic Bishops in the United States are being broken by OSF’s leaders, and the Directives state that employees that do not follow the Directives should be terminated. OSF is being let off the hook by Bishop Daniel Jenky who will not enforce his own Directives in Peoria regarding the patients that need his advocacy the most. Peoria is small and I am afraid one hand is washing the other. (OSF and the Diocese worked very closely with each other concerning OSF’s oral contraceptive policy. A lot of winking was going on here too.)

So, yes there are serious problems with regards to “cooperation and respect”. Catholic hospitals were founded in the United States over one hundred hears ago to take care of the poor, sick, and elderly.

However, places like OSF have just become too big, too powerful, and driven by the market. The Sisters around the country, that supposedly run the hospitals, are old and infirm… and they are human too.

When a 1.6 billion dollar industry, such as OSF, with an enormous law team and unlimited resources, uses fear, intimidation, and character assassination to silence people, they can get away with it… to some extent. However, even though these topics may sound distant and not related, ignoring the rights of Haitian children in Haiti and pre hospital patients in Peoria is setting a very dangerous precedent for all of us.

John A. Carroll, M.D.

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