Thursday, March 15, 2007
When a Good Hospital Loses Its Way
January 21st, 2007
by Dr. John A. Carroll
When Bill Dennis invited me to post for the Pundit, I asked him how the topics should be divided. He responded that a certain percentage can be about personal topics. So this is a personal topic.
It is also just my view how OSF in Peoria has lost its way. The medical center does many wonderful things everyday and I was very proud to have worked there for twenty years as a resident and attending physician. Many family members of mine have been born at OSF and died there since the late 1800’s. But OSF could be much better for patients, employees, and the central Illinois community.
OSF is the only place I have worked in my life for a salary other than digging graves next door to my home in the Hebrew Cemetery in West Peoria. But I believe OSF has just become too big, powerful, and greedy which is not unlike other medical centers in the United States. Their system of checks and balances seems to be impotent.
After graduating from The Chicago Medical School in 1980, the only place I wanted to train was OSF in Peoria. Peoria is home. Even though I wanted to be at OSF, I was actually hesitant to start my residency in Peoria because I would be taking care of white patients, compared to the Cook County patients that were Black, Hispanic, and everything else. I didn’t know anything and I was afraid I would be asked questions that I didn’t know how to answer. Poor people just ask fewer questions. They are frequently not in a position to question much. But I slowly got over my fear and OSF became home for the next 20 years.
By 2001, I had a great job in the ER at OSF. I had been an attending physician there for 12 years and loved my work. I was able to work in Peoria and also work in Haiti. For several years before I was fired, I was a 50% employee which allowed me to make a living, keep up on medical knowledge in the developed world, and bring kids back to the States through the Haitian Hearts program for heart surgery.
The last few years in the OSF ER, I thought that the ER was quite dysfunctional. I did not think that we controlled the environment in the ER well enough and patient flow was problematic. People were waiting too long for final disposition. And I thought this was dangerous.
In September 2001, I wrote a letter to OSF-CEO Keith Steffen about my concerns regarding the ER. The ER had the lowest patient satisfaction in the medical center and a very low employee satisfaction rate.
The day after I wrote the letter, the ER Director, Dr. George Hevesy, sent me a letter which put me on probation from the main ER for going around communication channels. He did not disagree with what I said about the ER problems and long patient waiting time because of lack of available beds upstairs.
However, when I first met with Dr. Hevesy in his office in early October, he told me that all I needed to get back to the ER at OSF after my probation was over, was to see Dr. Richard Lee, the head of the Wellness Committee at OSF. Dr. Hevesy said he wanted me evaluated for “burn out”. This is not what his letter said and he told the ER attendings in the August, 2001 department meeting that we were all “crispy critters” (burned out) because of the poor conditions in the ER. I asked Dr. Hevesy, if all my colleagues were going to need to see the Wellness Committee, and he just laughed and said no. But no one else had written Mr. Steffen either.
I could see my entire future flash in front of my eyes at that point. And it did not look optimistic. I told Dr. Hevesy right then that I would not see Dr. Lee of the Wellness Committee. I also told him that he was going to punish the messenger because of the message. (I had not even known there was a Wellness Committee at OSF until Dr. Hevesy mentioned that I needed to go. This Committee deals with problems such as physicians with drug abuse and abusive behavior, etc.) I remarked to Dr. Hevesy that the ER at OSF is “burned out”.
When I was fired on December 18, 2001 it was because I did not agree to see the Wellness Committee. However from the time Dr. Hevesy placed me on probation in September until the day I was fired, I had continued to work in the ER and Prompt Care more hours than any other attending physician at OSF. I also took care of Haitian kids in the hospital. But they fired me because I would not follow Dr. Hevesy’s orders and I am happy that I did not. A number of my physician partners said they would even see the Wellness Committee themselves if I would. They wanted me to do what Hevesy was asking so I could keep my job. I appreciated it, but they did not know what was happening in Steffen’s upstairs in Administration.
Keith Steffen is CEO at OSF. I didn’t know Mr. Steffen hardly at all even though I had seen him in the hallways during the previous two decades. I met with him a number of times in his office after I was put on probation. He never attempted to shake my hand once. He seemed very nervous, edgy, and fidgety.
My conversations with Mr. Steffen in his office were very telling. During my very first meeting with him in early October 2001, he likened me to a cancer in the ER that needed to be cut out. He also told me that the Apostolic community in the area had a problem with me and that “when this comes out about you, John, it won’t be good”. He mentioned this to me many times and would look down, smile, and shake his head. I asked him what he was talking about, but he would never answer. This really puzzled me and made me wonder about Mr. Steffen.
He told my brother there is a side of me that my brother “did not know”. This baffled and angered my brother and he told Mr. Steffen there was nothing about me that he did not know. Mr. Steffen told nurses in the hospital that “John Carroll is a very bad person and John has done bad things”. When I asked one of the nurses if he was talking about the ER, she said she did not think so. He spoke about me at his church in Washington, Illinois. He even told me that if I went to the Wellness Committee and came back to the main ER, I would still have “baggage”.
Mr. Steffen spoke to a well known lady in the community that had hosted a Haitian child and told her that if she understood OSF’s position, she would agree. She had heard the rumors described below and she and her husband never talked to me again after they met with me and told me what Mr. Steffen had said to her. They were afraid of their jobs and position in the community.
The bottom line is I knew that Keith was planting the seeds of doubt before he was going to finish me off, but I didn’t know what his plan was.
My conversations in October with Dr. Hevesy downstairs in the ER were not going much better. Dr. Hevesy made me wait for a meeting with him as he met with Andrew Rand, Director of Advanced Medical Transport. I told Dr. Hevesy, as Mr. Rand left his office, that he should be spending more time in the ER a with its many problems, rather than meeting with his “business partner” in the very profitable ambulance business.
I told Dr. Hevesy that I would accompany him to Keith Steffen’s office to support Dr. Hevesy as he supported the deficient ER that did not have enough support from Administration. This is of course the last thing Dr. Hevesy wanted to hear. He was part of the problem.
Dr. Hevesy had been in charge of all the ambulances in central Illinois (Project Medical Director) and was on OSF’s and AMT’s salary, which many people in central Illinois and the state of Illinois thought was a conflict of interest. AMT was found guilty of Medicare fraud in 2000, and with the help of Peoria’s hospitals paid the federal government a $2,000,0000 fine.
As the next couple of months went by, I continued to work in the Prompt Care departments at OSF, and as mentioned, worked more hours than any other attending. I kept teaching the resident physicians and UICOMP medical students that rotated through Prompt Care.
Dr. Hevesy had a meeting with all of the ER resident physicians during the time after he placed me on probation and had another physician (Mike Cruz) announce to the resident physicians that if any one of them spoke negatively of my probationary status, they would meet harsh consequences. I really missed working with the young physicians in the main ER. I had been awarded the most teaching awards by OSF ER resident physicians in the 90’s and was in the top five of 700 physicians for patient satisfaction at OSF.
None of this was going to be enough for me to keep my job. I could feel people pulling away from me at OSF. This was a very bad feeling. People were afraid to talk to me. I didn’t think there was going to be a good outcome.
I finally met with Sister Canisia in her office in November. Two pediatric cardiologists came to the meeting, one ER physician, and one nurse. I attempted to explain to Sister Canisia what was happening.
In Sister’s office, there is a side door that leads to Mr. Steffen’s office. About 15 minutes into the meeting, the side door opened and Dr. David Gorenz, Regional Director at OSF, and Sue Wozniak, Chief Operating Officer, walked into Sister Canisia’s office unannounced. Sister didn’t even seem to look up. I tried to ignore them as Ms. Wozniak sat to my left and Dr. Gorenz sat behind me. They began to disrupt the only meeting I had with 88 year old Sister Canisia.
Dr. Gorenz would interrupt as we continued our conversation with Sister Cansisa and ask me questions. I tried to ignore him. He asked me if I would mediate with OSF. Finally, I told him I needed to think about it because I didn’t trust the leaders at OSF much at that point. This really broke my heart because Dr. Gorenz had been my trusted mentor and physician teacher for two decades at OSF. I couldn’t believe that Keith Steffen had coerced him into disrupting my only meeting with Sister Canisia.
After one hour of this debacle, I got up and thanked Sister and the physicians and nurse that attended in my support. Sister told me that Mr. Steffen wanted to speak to me. This surprised me. So I went to Mr. Steffen’s door, knocked, and he opened it. I asked him if he wanted to see me and he said no and let the door close. When my brother talked with Mr. Steffen, he denied knowing about the meeting.
Several days later I called Dr. Gorenz and told him that I would agree to mediation, whatever that meant. A few days after that, I met with Keith Steffen in his office with a memo in my hand that Mr. Steffen had sent agreeing to mediation. Doug Marshall, OSF attorney, was present in Mr. Steffen’s office when he had a meeting with me because I would write everything down. Mr. Marshall would tell Mr. Steffen to “slow down”. He didn’t want him saying too much.
I told Mr. Steffen that I would agree to “mediation” as Dr. Gorenz had suggested when he had interrupted my meeting with Sr. Canisia. I had no idea what this meant and didn’t think Mr. Steffen did either. Mr. Steffen told me what a good idea mediation was, that it was his idea to begin with, but that we were not going mediate. He said Mr. Marshall would explain. I looked up from my notes and Mr. Marshall said that “we do not mediate”. I asked him what Mr. Steffen’s memo meant as I held it up. Mr. Marshall said it meant nothing. That was probably true.
Well, the weeks trickled by and I continued to work in Prompt Care and met with people that I thought I could trust.
I met with Dr. Jerry McShane, Director of the Ethics Committee at OSF, and asked him to submit the AMT/OSF relationship as well as Keith Steffen’s statements to me in his office to the Ethics Committee. He refused.
I met with Joe Piccione, OSF Corporate Ethics Director, who told me that I was mandated to submit my ethical concerns. When I did submit my concerns to OSF’s leaders regarding ethics violations, I never heard back from anyone or from the Ethics Committee at OSF. Also, as the years went by, I contacted OSF many times for their abandonment of Haitian kids, and never received a response from the Ethics Committee.
Mr. Steffen told me that if I hadn’t gone to the Wellness Committee by December 11, he was going to fire me.
There was an important meeting with the National Business Aviation Association that was scheduled for December 12 in New Orleans. I was asked to go to the meeting by Children’s Hospital of Illinois to talk about the private jet that had come from Rockford and picked up Haitian Hearts kids and me in Haiti. The kids needed heart surgery and we were flown to Peoria Children’s Hospital of Illinois (CHOI). On December 11, I left the Greater Peoria Airport and was seated next to Paul Kramer, Executive Director of Children’s Hospital of Illinois. As we taxied down the runway, I looked at my watch and it was 11:10 AM. I looked at Paul and said I just got fired. He didn’t say anything.
In New Orleans, I had the opportunity to speak to 1,000 private jet owners on the great experience we had when we were airlifted out of Haiti and said a few words about CHOI and Haitian Hearts. August Busch III was the key note speaker that followed.
When I arrived back in Peoria, Mr. Steffen’s secretary called me and said Mr. Steffen wanted to see me. When I went into his office, I immediately asked him if he fired me when I was in New Orleans. He said he had not because I was “raising money for CHOI”.
During my visits with Mr. Steffen in his office he told me how much at peace he was with this situation and how well he was sleeping at night. I didn’t believe much of anything that he said.
However, while I was seeing patients in Prompt Care at OSF on December 18, Dr. Hevesy came to Prompt Care and said that Mr. Steffen wanted to see us in his office. As I was leaving Prompt Care with Dr. Hevesy, another physician partner passed me in the hall way. I knew that he had come to replace me and that I was finished at OSF.
We went to Mr. Steffen’s office where he handed me a two page typed letter stating that I was fired from OSF. Doug Marshall, Dr. Tim Miller and Dr. Hevesy were all present in the office. Mr. Steffen asked me if I had any questions and I said no. I asked him if he had any questions for me and he said no. He told me that I needed to leave the hospital immediately. So I got up and walked out. It took about 3 minutes for that to happen after 20 very good years at OSF. I went to Prompt Care, got my stuff, and left OSF.
After he had fired me, Mr. Steffen and Mr. Marshall met with all of the ER attendings and Mr. Steffen wore glasses, looked down at the floor, and said he had not been sleeping well. I asked a physician if the ER physicians believed Keith Steffen and the answer was “no”. The ER attending physicians were asked not to talk about my case.
As the days passed, I still wondered what Mr. Steffen had been talking about when he said “when this comes out about you, John, it won’t be good” and that the Apostolic community had a problem with me.
About one week after Keith Steffen fired me from OSF in December, a good friend of mine called me. I was in downtown Peoria and pulled my car over so I could listen. She and her family hosted a Haitian Hearts baby. She was going with a small group of us to Haiti in early January.
She told me that on Sunday after Christmas, she had been approached by an Apostolic Christian nurse in her church. The nurse told her very definitively that she should not go to Haiti with me because she heard rumors that came from a “not low level source at OSF” that included that I was “homosexual”, that I had “no respect for authority”, as well as other things. Keith Steffen had told people that I was a bad person and had done bad things. And he had warned me over and over, that something bad was going to happen.
The reason my friend called was to tell me that she thought that I “needed a chance to defend myself.”
My friend also told me that she started to cry in church at hearing these statements and asked the nurse if she had ever heard of Keith Steffen. The nurse stated she had never heard of Keith Steffen which everyone had a hard time believing.
I was dumbfounded hearing this news. But now, for the first time, I thought I understood what Mr. Steffen had been saying all along. How could he do this? He had been spreading seeds of doubt all along, even warning me that it wasn’t going to be good for me. It all made sense to me now with this phone call.
OSF had fired me, and Mr. Steffen told me over and over that “when this comes out about you, John, it won’t be good.” I could never have imagined this scenario. And to make matters even worse, Mr. Steffen was saying behind closed doors, that he was going to stop all financial aid for Haitian children.
My colleagues in the Emergency Department did not know what Keith was saying to me in his office...I had not shared it with them. But I thought he was setting me up for a big fall.
I didn’t know how to defend myself. I have told this story to numerous people over the past five years. It is painful to tell and to hear. Many people have been enraged to hear what happened and others have pulled away from me when they hear it. Who wants to be associated with something like this? I think that was the plan all along.
After hearing what my friend had told me, I was extremely happy for many reasons that I had not let myself be coerced into seeing the “Wellness Committee” to keep by job at OSF. Mr. Steffen had even held Haitian Hearts over my head to do what they said. My colleagues downstairs in the ER who had tried to convince me to just “do what George and Keith are saying” didn’t know what Mr. Steffen was saying to me upstairs.
The next day, after my friend told me the “rumors” I went and talked to this nurse who was spreading the rumors. I had never met or seen this lady before in my life and had never even heard of her. I took notes carefully while we talked. I had to ask her to slow down multiple times. She begged me not to write as she spoke. She was extremely nervous and apologetic for what she had said. (One month later, she wrote me a letter apologizing for what she had said.) Even though this nurse denied ever hearing of Keith Steffen, Mr. Steffen had been to her office at Peoria Urological which is now known as Peoria Day Surgery Center.
In 2006, the Journal Star reported that Mr. Steffen had threatened to “bury” Peoria Day Surgery Center. Sadly, for Mr. Steffen and the nurse that was saying she had never heard of Mr. Steffen, Dr. Joe Banno told me in his Peoria Urological office in 2002, that Mr. Steffen had threatened his office to run them out of business. The nurse stated she had never heard of Keith Steffen. How could that be? The Apostolic Christian community in this area is close knit and Steffen had visited and threatened her office in the past.
The day after my conversations with the nurse who was spreading the deadly rumors, I decided I needed to talk to Sister Judith Ann. Sister had long been a big supporter of the Haitian kids, would eat supper with my mom, and would come to the Peoria airport to greet the kids when we got off the plane from Haiti. Sister Judith Ann’s title is President of OSF. She had assured me many times over the years, that OSF would never turn away a Haitian child.
When I arrived in her office, she was very nervous. I sat down and told her that some really vicious rumors were circulating. She interrupted me immediately, without me telling what they were, and told me, “They aren’t true, Dr. John.” She must have heard them. This is not what I wanted to hear from her—I knew they weren’t true. I told her that I had talked to the nurse the day before who was spreading these rumors and that the nurse said they came from a “not low level source” at OSF”. I strongly felt that it was Sister’s responsibility to look into this as a Corporate leader and friend of mine.
I asked Sister to simply talk with the nurse. Sister immediately said “no” to my request. It didn’t seem that she even thought about her answer. I couldn’t believe she would say “no” so fast. Sister had obviously heard the rumors, was told about them from someone, and said “no” immediately when I told her I had spoken with the nurse and was requesting Sister’s help.
Based on my conversations with Keith Steffen the preceding three months and what a number of people told me he was saying about me, I wanted Sister to investigate thoroughly where these rumors were originating. She talked about things like “we are like squirrels running around in a cage”. Poor Sister was very agitated and nervous and had been told that bad things were coming down the pike by someone. She was also probably told to “deny”.
OSF had just fired me and now Sister Judith Ann’s feet were being held close to the fire. Just think what the ramifications to OSF would be if Sister found the answer or if someone ratted on someone else? These thoughts had to be going through her head.
Sister Judith Ann told me that day that Jim Farrell, Corporate Director of Marketing/Communication was devastated by the rumors. When I talked to Jim, who was a friend of mine too, he denied hearing any rumors. Sister was being given some false information that was probably fed to her. Corporate did not have their act together any better than the medical center.
Then, incredibly, when Sister told me that if Administration at SFMC had been responsible for these rumors, she concluded that we just need to “reconcile”. (Reconciliation involves admitting one’s mistakes…would OSF Administration have done that?) I could see Sister was going to do nothing.
As I left her office, I felt totally abandoned by the OSF Sisters whom I had totally trusted for three decades. Plus, I didn’t think they were in control of OSF any longer. In fact, I thought they were being used and their great legacy in Peoria being scandalized. They were figure heads who water plants and pray for people, but running the $1.6 billion OSF health care industry was left to the guys who drive the big cars and make the big money.
That afternoon, at 3 PM, 12 friends of mine met outside of the front door of the hospital and we went into Keith Steffen’s office to talk with him about what he had been saying for the past three months. Mr. Steffen was not present due to outpatient surgery he had that morning. I saw the administrative staff usher Sr. Canisia out of her office which was right next to Mr. Steffen’s as quickly as possible.
However, Dr. Dave Gorenz, Dr. Tim Miller, Sue Wozniak, and Paul Kramer were all called to be present. My group all sat in Steffen’s office and the administrators came in one by one at different times. I asked each of the administrators as they came in the room if they had heard the bad rumors about me. They all denied it except for the last administrator to come in which was Mr. Kramer. When he didn’t deny that he had heard it, people in the room laughed because they didn’t believe the three other administrators who had preceeded Mr. Kramer into Steffen's office.
I asked the administrators to stand up and do the right thing. They all listened for two solid hours as my friends became fairly animated about what we thought happened here at OSF. The administrators knew they should say nothing. What could they say? No one defended Keith Steffen and the most that any of the administrators said was by Sue Wozniak when she commented, “Well, I sure hope Keith wouldn’t do anything like this…”
On January 3, 2002, OSF spokesperson Chris Lofgren confidently stated in the Peoria Journal Star, “John’s leaving (OSF) really doesn’t change Haitian Hearts at all. I was quoted as saying, “Haitian Hearts was held over my head by Keith Steffen. The implication was, Haitian Hearts would survive if I survived (at OSF). ” None of us in Haitian Hearts believed what was said by OSF.
Also, Paul Kramer composed a letter, which he did not sign, saying that all would be fine with Haitian Hearts and that OSF would continue to support Haitian Hearts. We didn’t think that would be the case either. OSF-CHOI did not want to lose any donations that may come in to them just because I got let go.
Keith Steffen wasn’t the only OSF leader talking about my situation at OSF. An OSF employee came to my home in the Spring of ‘02 and told me that Chris Lofgren had unusual things to say about me around the time Keith Steffen was firing me in December, ‘01. (She said Lofgren had said strange things about me in November, 2001.) Why Lofgren would be talking to her remained mysterious to me. Anyway, he made multiple comments to her regarding me.
One of Lofgren’s comments was that I was not married and lived at home with my mom. This was true but why would Lofgren comment on this and what did it have to do with my impending termination from OSF. Lofgren said other things as well, and Steffen had told me in his office many times that when this comes out about you, it won’t be good.
I asked this employee if she would meet with Lofgren with me to confirm his statements and she replied that she would. My brother and I showed up at Lofgren’s office on May 16, ‘02 but the employee was not there. She was obviously afraid to be there.
Anyway, Tom and I had a talk with Lofgren who wanted to know why we wanted to speak with him. I asked him what he had been saying about me to the employee. He acted like he didn’t know exactly what I was talking about. So we left. My brother had taken off work that day as a research engineer, father of five kids, and had better things to do than sit it this office and hear Lofgren play with words.
That same afternoon, I received a voice mail from the employee who Lofgren had spoken to, and in it she said she had spoken to Lofgren that morning about his statements about me in November, ‘01. So Tom and I headed back to Lofgren’s office the next day where he admitted to us that he had made those comments and had inappropriately spoken about my termination to this employee just like she had been saying all along. I asked him what he meant by those statements and he made up something that my brother and I did not buy.
Lofgren smiled at one point and said that “maybe Sister Canisia is making up the rumors”. We knew, of course, that she wasn’t but did not really appreciate Lofgren thinking this was such a funny matter. Interestingly, Lofgren encouraged us to go to Keith Steffen’s office and meet with him. I politely declined the offer. Steffen had done enough damage. (Steffen had told my brother that “the real John Carroll will be uncovered” when Tom had tried to have a rational discussion with him the previous December.) Lofgren stated he didn’t think (if I we visited with Steffen) “that I would be maligned further.” My brother could not believe he made that statement and Lofgren looked like the cat that just got caught with the mouse after he said that. (Lofgren told us that he was “intimately” involved in the administrative discussions surrounding my firing.)
As we left his office, Lofgren looked very sad.
Chris Lofgren had written the following statement that was faxed to OSF-Corporate (Jim Moore, CEO OSF, and Gerald McShane, MD, Director of the Ethics Committee at OSF), the SFMC Management Team, SFMC Administration, and multiple departments in the medical center on December 24, 2001—six days after my termination from OSF. (The statement appeared as if it came from Keith Steffen.)
Subject:Update–Dr. John Carroll
“In an attempt to keep “open and honest” communication alive here at Saint Francis Medical Center, I am compelled to share some quick comments regarding the article on Friday, December 21, in the Journal Star describing the dismissal of Dr. John Carroll. Since the story ran, we have had some calls from the community asking us for details.”
“Dr. Carroll, like all OSF SFMC Emergency Room Physicians, was an employee of the medical center. Whenever we have an issue regarding an employee, it is our policy to maintain strict confidentiality. This is to protect the employee from having his or her situation discussed openly. I’m confident you can appreciate the importance of taking this position, from a legal as well as an ethical perspective.”
“Because Dr. Carroll was an employee, we MUST extend this same courtesy of confidentiality to him. In the Journal Star article, our spokesman, Chris Lofgren, declined to discuss the particulars of Dr. Carroll’s situation. This was in accordance with the legal an ethical requirements we have to protect every employee’s privacy. We did not initiate the Journal Star story nor do we believe it was initiated by Dr. Carroll.”
“I ask that you not engage in conjecture about his departure nor spread rumors that are, most likely, untrue. To do so simply harms both OSF SFMC and Dr. Carroll. That’s not what our Mission and Values are all about. Please share, as you deem appropriate with your staff. And thank you for your adherence to our policies on these kinds of issues.”
Mr. Lofgren was covering for OSF and himself for “breaking the rules” as he advised others not to do. (An employee within the medical center had found this fax taped on a bathroom wall, right where it should have been, and gave it to me.)————————–
As 2002 progressed, I worked in Haiti and the Haitian Hearts House was constructed in East Peoria. The house was sold for $177,000 and all of it was donated to OSF-CHOI for their care of Haitian children. In 2002, we were able to raise 445,000 dollars for CHOI which raised our total to 1.1 million dollars Haitian Hearts had donated to CHOI.
However, as expected, a meeting was called on July 12, 2002 and OSF withdrew all financial support for Haitian Hearts. Mr. Steffen had followed through with what he had said privately and Chris Lofgren and CHOI had misled the public with their public statements and letter in early 2002.
During 2002, I met with the Catholic Diocese of Peoria a number of times. I could not get an appointment with Bishop Jenky after multiple attempts, but was able to speak with Patricia Gibson, the Canon Law Lawyer for the Diocese. (She has since been promoted to Chancellor of the Diocese.)
I also met with a Monsignor in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria who described the “corporate malaise” at OSF. I decided to follow the Catholic Canon Law and consider filing a tribunal law suit against OSF for multiple reasons.
A Catholic tribunal court is a “church-court” that does not seek a financial settlement; it searches for the truth and tries to correct the problem). This type of court is described in the Bible. The local Diocesan bishop is the judge. I thought there were significant issues related to OSF that were pastoral care issues that the Bishop should address. I did not see how certain administrative leaders and physicians could survive the Bishop’s judgment with the implementation of a Tribunal court. (As it turned out, I don’t think Bishop Jenky thought they could survive it either.)
I presented my “case” to Ms. Gibson complete with papers, articles, etc. describing the OSF debacle. She agreed completely, and would shake her head in disgust at the history I was giving her. She stated that it would be nice if this could be solved “administratively”. (The Diocese would sit down with OSF and try and figure this out around a table and see what could be done to protect the Sister’s mission and philosophy.)
So for months, I met with her and other Diocesan leaders to try and solve this “administratively”. On one occasion when Ms. Gibson and Monsignor Rohlfs (the Vicar General of the Diocese) met with the Sisters, Ms. Gibson related that Monsignor Rohlfs was very disturbed about what he heard about OSF and that “Haitian Hearts is a minor problem” (compared to other OSF problems).
I asked Ms. Gibson if she could be my canon law lawyer in a tribunal, if it occurred, against OSF. She declined immediately stating that “would be conflict of interest”. I didn’t completely understand this after I had poured out my heart and many specific details to her for many months regarding the problems at OSF. I believed she understood the “corporate malaise” as well as anyone. I was in for an education again.
I was encouraged that the Diocese would be pro active like this and when my brother and I met with Ms. Gibson and Monsignor Rohlfs in his office on December 2, 2002 they helped us draft a letter of petition to the Sisters to discuss important issues to try and avoid a Church tribunal against OSF. (Four months later, both Monsignor Rohlfs and Ms. Gibson told me that if I even “petitioned” the Sisters for a tribunal court, the Diocese would pull any support from Haitian Hearts in the media. Haitian kids suffering heart defects would be held hostage to not embarrassing the hospital with a tribunal court.)
During our meeting in December Monsignor Rohlfs looked up at my brother and me and asked us if the Diocese could be of any help to us regarding Haitian Hearts. We hadn’t come in that day (December 2, 2002) to discuss Haitian Hearts so that caught us off guard. I was headed back to Haiti in early January, 2003. We told him everything was going as well as possible, even with my firing from OSF the previous December, and OSF pulling all financial support from Haitian Hearts in July, 02. Haitian Hearts had raised more money for CHOI in 2002 than any other year as mentioned above.
Then I received a certified letter in the mail at home and understood why Monsignor Rohlfs may have been asking if we needed any help with Haitian Hearts…..
Even though OSF administration had withdrawn all of their economic support of Haitian Hearts in July 2002, Haitian Hearts had been able to raise 445,000 dollars for Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Paul Kramer, executive director of CHOI had advised us not to build a house to sell, but we did anyway. After the house sold, Kramer badgered us for the money verbally and with letters. We donated all of the house funds ($177,000) to CHOI in December, 2002, like we said we would. Paul Kramer even made the comment, when he was asking the house contractor for the money, that there was no such thing as “Haitian Hearts”.
In December, not long after meeting with Monsignor Rohlfs and Patricia Gibson, I received a certified letter in the mail from Doug Marshall, OSF’s attorney. The letter stated that OSF had called the American Consulate in Haiti (Paul Kramer, Director of Children’s Hospital of Illinois, made the call according to Consulate officials in Haiti), and advised the American Consulate not to grant more visas for sick Haitian kids to come to OSF for heart surgery.
I was in disbelief that Kramer and OSF would do this. Our fund raising efforts were excellent, even after I was fired at OSF. The community believed in Haitian Hearts and the good we were (and still are) trying to do. Sister Judith Ann had told me a number of times that OSF “would never turn down a child”. Now Haitian kids were going to die. OSF (Chris Lofgren) had told the Journal Star immediately after I was fired that Haitian Hearts would do just fine. But OSF cut all of their funding for Haitian kids six months later and called the American Consulate to stop visas for kids to travel. This did not seem just fine to us.
I needed to do something, but what? There were no checks and balances at OSF, in my opinion, and the foxes were running the hen house. The Sisters were definitely not in control. Haitian kids were going to die. I decided to picket OSF, an action that seemed so foreign to me, it was appalling. Even though the Haitian kids had great support from within the medical center from the doctors, nurses, social workers, custodians, and many other people, OSF’s Administration was doing all they could to keep Haitian kids outside the walls of the hospital. I thought their behavior was especially egregious.
On a cold Sunday morning, January 7, 2003, I drove to a place that makes signs. In the car, I decided the sign should say, “OSF Administration: Respect for Life Includes Haitians”. The guy at the sign company charged me nothing for the sign. His contempt for OSF and their actions was obvious.
Getting out of the car that morning was cold, lonely, and very painful. I did not want to picket the hospital that I loved and had worked at for 20 years. As the hours went by, the media appeared and did interviews regarding the signs and OSF’s actions that prompted my action. Patricia Gibson, was summoned by someone, and came to my mom’s house and stayed for several hours. She commented that my picketing was the right thing to do.
My brother joined me in front of the hospital, and as we picketed on the sidewalk, OSF panicked inside. They called the Peoria Police who did nothing. They sent the OSF chief of security (who is a friend of mine since high school) outside and he invited me inside. I politely declined.
About all OSF could do at that point was to spin the truth again. Chris Lofgren, the hospital spokesman, told the Journal Star that Haitian Hearts owed OSF 500,000 dollars. They essentially made up this figure to make me look as bad as possible since I was questioning OSF’s respect for life policy. (Questioning their respect for life philosophy was to come back and haunt them in the next couple of years as they abandoned and rejected Willie Fortune, Faustina Jacques, and Jackson Jean-Baptiste, who died, due to OSF’s abandonment. Maxime Petion would die also in 2006. I also learned a significant amount how OSF and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria worked together regarding oral contraceptives at OSF and their disrespect for the culture of life that OSF professes to have.)
Over the next couple of days in the media OSF changed the figure regarding what Haitian Hearts owed them multiple times. OSF had no clue what they were talking about. (See below.) That had to be embarrassing for them. They lowered the figure to less than 400,000 dollars and then had Dr. Rick Pearl tell the Journal Star that our “debt was forgiven”. OSF did not want their books looked at, so they canceled the “debt”. (Over the previous few years, Dr. Pearl had asked me multiple times in private to “bring me some Haitian kids to operate on”. I had asked him to go to Administration and ask them to help out with these patients, but I was sure he wouldn’t because he did not want to inflame Administration asking them to operate on more Haitian kids.)
We had requested itemized bills in the fall of 2002 of the Haitian kids that were operated and OSF did not comply. OSF’s record keeping was sloppy, they spent over 20,000 dollars of Haitian Hearts money on an ultrasound probe, and a physician that had donated many hours of overtime hours to Haitian Hearts never showed up on the Haitian Heart donor list over several years.
When CHOI hired Linda Arnold as director of CHOI Foundation, she brought me a letter to sign that said that Haitian Hearts had donated $300,000 to CHOI. (I knew we had donated at least $600,000 to CHOI over the years. ) I told Linda that her amount was wrong, so she changed it to $400,000. I refused to sign that letter as well, telling her the amount was at least $600,000. She left the room and changed the letter yet again to $600,000. I signed this letter. My faith in the good faith of CHOI Foundation was falling quickly. The best I could say, was that their “bookkeeping” was bad.
Caterpillar Foundation was generously donating 10,000 dollars each year for the Haitian kids which showed up on the donor list. However, on April 15, 2001, the OSF Haitian Hearts donor list showed that we were given credit for only 500 dollars from Caterpillar. Where did the other 9,500 dollars go? (Henry Holling, Director of Caterpillar Foundation called me AFTER I was fired and told me that Caterpillar still wanted to continue donating to Haitian Hearts. I was and still am very appreciative of Mr. Holling’s offer.)
When Haitian Hearts calculated what we owed OSF after I picketed, it appeared that our balance was close to zero even with Keith Steffen cutting away all OSF economic support six months earlier (July 12, 2002).
Subsequent to my picketing, OSF placed Haitian Hearts on “suspension”. I picketed them for their lack of respect for Haitian lives. The day after picketing OSF, I left for Haiti and OSF requested a meeting with the Journal Star editorial board and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Chris Lofgren described the situation as a “public relations nightmare for OSF”.
Haitian Hearts was not invited to the meeting at the Journal Star. No one from the media heard our story at all. The cards were stacked against Haitian Hearts as we advocated for the Haitian kids while others were trying to destroy the program. The decision was made for Bishop Jenky to “take over” the program. Those of us in Haitian Hearts were worried that Bishop Jenky would not stand up enough to OSF and that Haitian kids would be left behind to die.
While I was in Haiti in January, 2003, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria organized a new Haitian Hearts committee. Monsignor Rohlfs and Patricia Gibson were the individuals most involved in organizing this. I returned from Haiti with no kids to operate even though many needed surgery.
The new committee was filled with OSF Corporate people, administrators, and various other individuals. Most knew absolutely nothing how Haitian Hearts worked, how we evaluated patients in Haiti, how we kept them alive in Haiti, how we transported them to the United States and arranged for host families in Peoria to keep them, and how we transported them back to Haiti after their surgeries, and how we raised funds for Children’s Hospital of Illinois. My brother Tom and his wife Diane were there and Haitian Hearts coordinator Anne Wagenbach was invited also. Anne is an RN at OSF and had essentially done everything for Haitian kids over the years. Keith Steffen had threatened to sue her two years before when she attempted to have a petition when Steffen was getting ready to fire me.
At the start of the meeting, which occurred on February 5, 2003, Bishop Jenky and Monsignor Rohlfs mentioned a couple of times that the “Diocese did not want egg on its face” and mentioned Caterpillar. The Bishop also mentioned the Capital Campaign which is the fund raising campaign for the Catholic Diocese. What these statements meant regarding the Haitian kids with congenital heart defects was confusing. During the meeting I was able to speak for about five minutes and told the group what OSF had meant to the Carroll family over the last 100 years in Peoria. I also asked Sister Judith Ann if she thought Haitian kids were safe at OSF. (I felt that Haitian kids were not being operated in a timely fashion at OSF the previous year.) She did not answer and actually said nothing at the meeting.
Monsignor Rohlfs cut me off pretty quickly. He assigned jobs to everyone in the room except Anne Wagenbach. Anne was seated next to Monsignor Rohlfs and asked him how much the Diocese was going to donate to CHOI for Haitian Hearts. Rohlfs replied “nothing”. We were all getting a crash course in how the leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria actually lead.
My brother Tom asked Bishop Jenky if I could return to Haiti then and bring back a few kids for life saving surgery. Bishop Jenky said that would not be a good idea.
Bishop Jenky spent 45 minutes with us during the 60 minute meeting and that was the last we ever saw of him as the new “director” of Haitian Hearts. Patricia Gibson assured us that the next meeting would be in a few weeks.
Unfortunately, the next meeting did not occur until July 16, 2003, and at that meeting the Diocese withdrew all support from Haitian Hearts and the children that needed surgery in Peoria.
I met with Monsignor Rohlfs and Patricia Gibson on February 19, 2003, two weeks after Haitian Hearts meeting with Bishop Jenky. Both Monsignor Rohlfs and Patricia Gibson said that they would go to the media and come out against Haitian Hearts if I filed a petition for a tribunal court against OSF. I couldn’t understand why they were protecting bad behavior at OSF. This was a big turn around compared to when then helped me draft a letter to OSF several months before.
I told them I was going to petition for a tribunal court and left their office (Bishop Sheen Center) incredibly dismayed with the leadership of the Peoria Catholic Diocese. I walked down the street to the Chancery to make an appointment to speak with Bishop Jenky. I had been attempting to speak with the Bishop unsuccessfully for a year. His secretary, Fr. Jason Gray, had been denying me this opportunity. However, on February 19, Father Gray told me that I could have an appointment with Bishop Jenky the next day when I told him the topic–a tribunal court.
I showed up for my appointment with Bishop Jenky the next day at the Chancery. I could tell immediately that Bishop Jenky was not all that happy to see me. Patricia Gibson sat next to him. She barely spoke the entire meeting. He told me that the day before was the first time he had heard that I wanted to file a petition for a tribunal court against OSF, even though I had been talking to Ms. Gibson and Monsignor Rohlfs about this for 8 months. In fact, as mentioned above, Ms. Gibson and Monsignor Rohlfs even dictated a letter of petition that my brother transcribed in Monsignor Rohlfs office in December, 2002. Why was Bishop Jenky just now hearing about this?
Bishop Jenky was aware of OSF’s lack of respect for Haiti’s children’s lives as evidenced by Paul Kramer’s call to the American Consulate in Haiti in December, 2002. In my opinion, this action was in opposition to what Catholic social teaching and the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. This action was opposite to OSF’s Mission Statements. Bishop Jenky was also aware of OSF cutting all funding for Haitian Hearts children in July, 2002.
At the meeting I told Bishop Jenky about my concerns with activities at OSF, including their corrupt handling of pre-hospital care, Keith Steffen’s comments to me in his office at OSF, the seeds of doubt that Steffen had spread in the Peoria area, and what the Apostolic Christian nurses comments about me were. I asked Bishop Jenky what he would think if the same things were said about him. His eyes were very big and angry looking as he replied, “I would be mad as hell”.
However, amazingly, Bishop Jenky said there would be no tribunal court against OSF and that he would not judge against OSF. He stated that OSF is a 1.6 billion dollar industry. It was very clear to me the power of OSF in the eyes of Bishop Jenky. He told me that he wore the red miter. He really wouldn’t even listen to me regarding more specifics what the tribunal court would be about. He just assured me that there would be no tribunal court against OSF.
I concluded again that Bishop Jenky was very much afraid of OSF’s power and their relationship with the business community in the Peoria area. Was OSF donating to the Diocese? It was at the start of the Diocesan Capital Campaign and he didn’t want to imperil it any way.
Bishop Jenky even told me that if I followed through with the petition for a tribunal court and Haitian Hearts fell apart, that I needed to return to him in one year and go to confession for the killing of 18 Haitian children. (I asked him to repeat this as I wrote down his comment.) I think he knew then that he would be the one withdrawing support for the Haitian kids, but needed someone to blame. He said several times, “This is not going to work…” (meaning his involvement in Haitian Hearts.)
I left the Chancery fairly dejected, but it was another good learning experience for me regarding the corporate Catholic Church in the United States. I had recently been told and did some reading that the Catholic Diocese of Peoria had helped and sanctioned OSF’s oral contraceptive policy and OSF-HealthPlans oral contraceptive and sterilization policies with OSF Corporate Ethicist Joe Piccione a decade before. These policies help permit OSF to cooperate in the provision of artificial birth control, an action that clearly contradicts church teachings. Why? Because of money. OSF is afraid they would lose patients and important preferred provider agreements if they don’t help provide artificial birth control.
Bishop Jenky was definitely not interested in hearing about the Ethical and Religious Directives regarding health care and social justice.
A tribunal is a “search for the truth”. I was seeking Bishop Jenky’s intervention for a moral and honest discussion with those involved. The truth would be discovered and justice would be served. I did not think that certain OSF physicians and OSF administrators had much of a chance in a court like this that would seek the truth. If a tribunal would become unavoidable even with the intercession of the Bishop, then an honest effort would have been made to follow Catholic Canon Law. Unfortunately, Bishop Jenky refused the possibility of a tribunal court against OSF.
In the spring of 2003, Haitian Hearts wrote up a new agreement for OSF detailing how Haitian Hearts would be run. However Sue Wozniak, CFO at OSF-SFMC, who had been placed on the “new” Diocesan Haitian Hearts committee told us she never read it after my sister-in-law presented it to her. Why would she not even read it? We had read OSF’s set of rules for Haitian Hearts which included details that OSF would even control the visas of the Haitian children. This meant that OSF could send them back to Haiti whether they were ready to go or not after surgery. Haitian Hearts thought that this could endanger the children.
Also, OSF’s document stated that the Catholic Diocese of Peoria would pay for costs to children in the hospital that were not covered under the contract. The Diocese said they would not pay these costs. So the OSF document was extremely deficient and not realistic. There were going to be so many rules established by OSF, I thought it would endanger the kids and the program. That is why we had to write our own proposal that Wozniak said she did not read.
In May, 2003, Monsignor Rohlfs called me and stated that the Sisters had made a financial offer to set aside monies in Children’s Hospital of Illinois to help cover surgery. I told him I was grateful for this. He added that I needed to accept the money before any other detail of the program could be discussed. I told him that this would of course be impossible to do because of OSF’s shenanigans in the past and what there proposals were this time (like controlling the kids’ visas, etc.) Rohlfs stated that we had to have a meeting which I agreed to, but insisted that Haitian Hearts know the rest of the details of OSF’s proposal before we accepted anything.
On July 16, 2003 we finally had our meeting. Joe Piccione greeted me at the door of the Bishop Sheen center with a smile and a hand shake which made me worry that the end of Haitian Hearts was near. The meeting was run by Monsignor Rohlfs and Patricia Gibson. Others in attendance were my brother and sister-in-law, Dr. Gerald McShane (wearing his golf shoes), Sister Diane McGrew from Corporate, Sister Judith Ann Duvall, President of OSF, and a friend of mine who had lost her husband to a heart attack after a bungled ambulance experience.
Monsignor Rohlfs stated the meeting by saying that I needed to accept the financial offer from the Sisters. I told him again that I needed to know the other “details” of the contract constructed by OSF and the Diocese. He would not tell me any of the details, but Dr. McShane gave us a hint that they were “significant”.
One of Haitian Hearts concerns was that if a Haitian child’s bill ran over the what was allotted by the Sisters, Haitian Hearts would be blamed (in the media like they had in January) and OSF would demand that it be paid. Rohlfs had said that the Diocese was not going to contribute anything for the Haitian children. Joe Piccione and McShane said that the debt would not be carried over each year but, amazingly, Sister Diane stated that Haitian Hearts would be responsible for any debts, that the debts wouldn’t be forgiven at the end of each year, and that there would be no “caps”. This was what I was worried about, along with the safety of the Haitian kids.
Thus, I could see that the OSF people and the Diocese had not really prepared for this meeting and Sister Diane was driving a hard bargain. She was definitely not a happy lady and poor Sister Judith Ann did not say anything again. As President of OSF Corporate, I would have thought that the secular leaders would have let her say something.
Monsignor Rohlfs was adamant that no details be discussed until I accepted the plan as it was. We obviously could not accept this. If I accepted the offer and the rest of the contract was bogus, I was cornered and the Diocese and OSF could say that I refused all help for my Haitian kids. The trap was being set. My brother asked for another meeting so OSF and the Diocese could better understand what Sister Diane was saying. Rohlfs said we had just seven minutes left to make our decision.
I showed a framed picture of a little Haitian girl named Pamela needing heart surgery and Rohlfs chided me and called Pamela “my advertisement”.
Joe Piccione, OSF Corporate Ethicist called me arrogant and told me that I was “not going to back the Sisters into a corner.”
Rohlfs ended the meeting in one hour. No other meetings were scheduled and my friend whose husband had died got into a wreck on the way home she was so upset with the outcome of the meeting.
The Diocese had aligned themselves with OSF and the big money in Peoria. Catholic social justice was not discussed by anyone except Haitian Hearts.
I left for Haiti the next day to begin working again. The director of communications for the Diocese called me in the Miami airport. She is a friend of mine and sadly informed me that the Diocese was pulling away from Haitian Hearts.
Elaine Hopkins of the Journal Star interviewed Dr. William Albers, a pediatric cardiologist at OSF. Even though Dr. Albers was not there, and was not on the Haitian Hearts committee, he blamed me on the front page of the Journal Star for failing to “negotiate” with the Diocese and OSF. Monsignor Rohlfs and OSF wouldn’t negotiate at all when they asked me to accept OSF’s offer, or nothing will be discussed. (OSF usually picks someone peripherally involved in an issue who is well known by the community, to talk to the media when necessary. I had actually expected they were going to pick Dr. Albers to slam me and told my family months before…but it hurt me deeply because he was another mentor of mine that I really looked up to as a physician.)
I was really sad during my first couple of days in Haiti that so many people had turned on the program and that Haitian kids were going to suffer greatly for decisions made in fancy offices in Peoria.
With the background as presented, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria came out with the press release as follows:
July 18, 2003
Catholic Diocese of Peoria’s Statement on Haitian Hearts
Peoria—It is with enormous regret that Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, is announcing today that the Diocese of Peoria was unable to successfully facilitate an agreement between OSF St. Francis Medical Center and the Haitian Hearts program. The Diocese originally became involved in the process at the request of the Sisters of the The Third Order of St. Francis. From the beginning, all parties involved were fully aware that there were many obstacles that needed to be overcome for this undertaking to succeed. Despite good will on everyone’s part and many hours of hard work, the parties were unable to come to an agreement. The Bishop would like to publicly recognize the zeal and goodness of the many supporters of Haitian Hearts. He would also like to commend the ongoing generosity of the Sister of The Third Order of Saint Francis for their willingness to make a significant financial contribution had this program been successful.
The Diocese will be making no further comment at this time.
My 87 year old mother wrote Monsignor Rohlfs the following letter after the Diocese’s pathetic effort regarding helping Haitian children:
I am quite sure you read Dr. Albers’ misinformation in the Journal Star that said that “Dr. Carroll would not negotiate.” You know that the reason John could not negotiate was that you would not allow him to do so. You emphatically told everyone at the meeting that John must accept or reject the sisters’ offer of$200,000 before discussing the list of stipulations that accompanied their proposal. You also know that no clear thinking adult would even consider accepting or rejecting without first discussing and negotiating all of the terms that would have to be met first. How could you issue such a senseless ultimatum that is in direct opposition to good business procedures? Why would you not allow negotiations before commitment? Give me one good reason!
I have talked to Dr. Albers and have learned that he was given the false information that John didn’t try to negotiate — Msgr. Rohlfs, you know that even John’s written attempt to negotiate (counteroffer) was never responded to. You also know that he asked you verbally at least three or four times and my son Tom also asked for discussion/negotiation before committing to accepting or rejecting the Sisters’ proposal. You emphatically refused. In your letter to John announcing the date and time of the fateful meeting, you stated that many things needed to be discussed — John, of course, totally agreed. Why then did you not encourage discussion and negotiation rather then forbid it?
Surely you know John’s reasoning for insisting on discussion and negotiation before accepting the proposal: he would be held responsible if Haitian Hearts could not cover its St. Francis’ bill. Had this been you, Monsignor, would you (or the diocese) have agreed to accept the Sisters’ offer and take the risk of going bankrupt? Of course you would not! Of course John could not!
Regarding Dr. Albers’ unwarranted statements to the newspaper concerning negotiations and meetings that he was not a part of: apparently one or more persons have given him inaccurate information — how unfair! and I believe in some cases dishonest.
Regarding the only two Diocese/St. Francis Haitian Hearts meetings that were held: meeting No.1: you appointed the useless and never-called-upon-to-report committee chairmen and you announced that the Diocese did not intend to “end up with egg on its face.” Meeting No.2: you issued the edict that John should blindly accept or reject …. Sounds like a pre-planned charade to me!
Sue Wozniak stated at the meeting that she did not read John’s written attempt to negotiate (his counteroffer)–why was this? Had any others on the committee read it?
Over the past two years, John has made numerous attempts to resolve these and other serious concerns regarding OSF St. Francis Medical Center. Nothing has been resolved. As you know, John did not want to sue the sisters, so he and Tom thought a tribunal was the logical, sensible solution. When they discussed this with you early on, you did not appear to object to a tribunal. In fact, you know that you and Patricia helped John write the letter informing Sr. Judith Ann that he was considering it. Why would you then suddenly, three or four months later, get so upset about the tribunal that you threatened John by saying that you would go to the media if he went ahead with it?
Who/what changed your mind? Did either of you ever tell the bishop that you had known about the tribunal for three or four months and had even helped write the letter? I am sure you know that when John talked to the bishop, the bishop was quite upset regarding the idea of a tribunal and said that he had just heard about it during the previous 24 hours. Since this is true, why hadn’t you or Patricia told him long before and, at the very least explained to John why you so adamantly switched views on the tribunal approach?
John was told by a very well known Peoria attorney that the diocese would never help him-we didn’t, for a minute, believe it. Also, he was told by another attorney that the diocese would destroy his reputation. Now, what are we to believe?
Surely your conscience, as well as Dr. Albers’, tells you that you have an obligation to do whatever it takes to right this terrible injustice to someone who tries to live as he believes. I sincerely implore you to do so.
During 2002 and 2003, Paul Kramer, the Executive Director of CHOI continued to be problematic for Haitian Hearts.
During a meeting with Paul in his office in 2000, Paul said to me that “Haitian Hearts is becoming too competitive for CHOI.” He meant that we were raising so much money in Peoria that was earmarked Haitian kids surgery at CHOI, he was worried that CHOI was being left out for purposes other than Haitian Hearts. For example, Paul and many others wanted to build a free standing children’s hospital. (That $234 million project is now underway.) I think he was nervous that people were contributing to CHOI-Haitian Hearts, to help the Haitian children’s expenses at CHOI, and not for cement and bricks for the new hospital.
Haitian Hearts never received itemized bills for our Haitian kids. CHOI just told us what they “cost”. So to check this out, an OSF nurse reviewed 6 charts of Haitian kid’s bills, and found that we had been charged $40,000 too much. (Example: Heart valves that were donated by the companies that make them for the Haitian surgeries, were charged to the kids.) When we showed Kramer the errors, he did give Haitian Hearts credit for these OSF mistakes.
I wondered how many more mistakes there were that we would never know about. This was so important to know, because it could mean that we were leaving kids in Haiti unoperated because of poor bookkeeping at OSF.
A physician donated overtime hours he had worked to CHOI-Haitian Hearts. His donations over the years did not show up on the computer sheet as going towards surgery for Haitian kids. I tried to track down his money for 2 years at OSF, and was unable to. He was afraid to look for it himself for fear of repercussions.
In the fall, 2002, a Rotary Club North official, Lyn Banta, called me one afternoon at home. He told me that Linda Arnold at OSF Foundation had just called him and demanded RCN turn over any funds they had collected for Haitian Hearts for transportation, food, medication, for the Haitian kids. This amounted to $12,500. This fund was designed for people like the small group of us who sat around my kitchen table and paid for these expenses out of our pockets. Now, OSF-CHOI Foundation was attempting to get these funds. Paul Kramer told a Haitian Hearts supporter that he had asked Arnold to make this call to Mr. Banta. Paul was part of the original conversations with Lyn Banta when this independent fund was started by RCN, and Paul knew that money was not to go inside of CHOI for CHOI’s expenses. Mr. Banta refused to turn over the funds to Arnold, even though she was “adamant” that he give them up. Mr. Banta told me that day, “John, you would never have seen these funds, if I had given them to CHOI- Foundation. ”
During 2003, Haitian Hearts received no donor list from CHOI and no money came in from the OSF offices for Haitian Hearts. Haitian Hearts had become a not-for- profit 501.c.3 organization in October of 2002 because we could not trust OSF any longer.
During the fall of 2003 Anne Wagenbach, R.N., Haitian Hearts Coordinator, went to OSF Foundation and spoke to a secretary who told Anne that she would send our donor list. In other words, everyone that had donated to Haitian Hearts or CHOI/Haitian Hearts during 2003 would be sent to Anne so we could see who to thank and also determine what OSF owed Haitian Hearts.
The kids in Haiti were and are very dependent on these funds to help obtain their passports and visas, medication, American Airlines flights to the United States, medication, and surgery.
Weeks went by, and Anne did not receive the donor list from OSF Foundation. This seemed highly immoral for a 1.6 billion dollar industry to withhold from Haitian Hearts money and our donor list. In the meantime, OSF-CHOI sent literature to people seeking funds for CHOI using our donor lists.
One afternoon, I drove to the OSF-Foundation office and saw the secretary that Anne had spoken with. She invited me to her office to print out the donor list for me. She also told me that she had placed the donor list in the outgoing mail in the Foundation office. I believe that she did. As I sat in her office, as she retrieved the Haitian Hearts donor list off the computer, Linda Arnold walked in her office.
Linda is a director of the Foundation office. In the Foundation office that day, in the fall of 2003, Linda told me that I could leave and that they would mail me the donor list for 2003. I told her that it would be no problem for me to stay since it was being brought up on the computer right then. Just when the secretary was to print the donor list out, the printer wouldn’t work for some reason. Linda told me that I should leave or she would call hospital security. I told her to go ahead and call security. I wasn’t doing anything wrong and had been invited up by the secretary.
Also, Linda knew that the Rotary Club North official had called me and let me know that she had “adamantly requested” that he send monies that was dedicated to Haitian Hearts to her instead. Her eyes glazed over and she froze. She didn’t call security but told her secretary to go home and “take care of her babies”. (I knew the secretary had no babies at home.) However, her secretary was afraid of Linda and told me she was leaving. So I left too.
Haitian Hearts never did get a donor list that year from the general public and we have received none since. However, at the end of 2003, OSF Foundation turned over a check from OSF, signed by Keith Steffen, to Haitian Hearts for $8,343.80. Where did this money come from and why did OSF cash the checks that came to Haitian Hearts?
They were just bullying us and I believe that we would never have seen this money if we had not gone to Foundation in the fall of 2003 and confronted Linda Arnold. We never knew who to thank for the donations and have no idea if OSF gave us what they should have. (It seems odd that Haitian Hearts contributions to CHOI/Haitian Hearts would fall from almost one-half million dollars in 2002, to $8,343.80 in 2003.) The ultimate people that suffer here are the Haitian children that need the funds for surgery in the United States. Interestingly, OSF-CHOI does use the Haitian Hearts donor list to send out literature for Children’s Hospital of Illinois to raise money for Children’s Hospital, not for Haitian Hearts children who they have banned from the hospital.
Also, as if Paul Kramer hadn’t done enough damage over the last couple of years, he helped delay the cardiac catheterization and subsequent surgery of a Haitian child.
I wrote a letter to CHOI Advisory Board regarding this issue. I asked the CHOI Advisory Board the following questions:
Is this precedent healthy and consistent with the Sisters’ mission statements? Is this a good idea for the non-Haitian children in central Illinois if this were continued? Why would an administrator have the power to do this? Where are the checks and balances at OSF? If this were your child, grandchild, or you were guardian of this child, would you have been happy with this intervention? Did he do this with the medical concern for the child as his primary concern? Were any other surgeries delayed for any other Haitian children, and did they suffer for this?
Doug Marshall, OSF attorney, sent me a letter stating that my letter “contained a defamatory statement concerning delay of care”, regarding Paul Kramer. He went on to write that, “…republication of that statement, if deemed defamatory, may result in legal action.”
So OSF was threatening to sue me for reporting the truth to the OSF-CHOI Advisory Board. This action by the Executive Director of CHOI (Paul Kramer) was indeed embarrassing for OSF, and when I reported it to the OSF Pediatric Resource Center, the Haitian child was put on the schedule immediately.—————————————————
In conclusion, I agree that OSF does have “corporate malaise” as the good Monsignor in Peoria explained to me.
I believe writing my letter to OSF administration regarding lack of bed capacity to accept patients from the very over loaded OSF ER was the correct thing to do. In 2006, OSF admitted that the ER was seeing about twice the number of patients that it was built for in 1986.
OSF’s ED Director, Dr. Hevesy, responded to my letter asking for better patient care by placing me on probation from the main ER for the next six months. He continues his relationship with AMT which many people in the EMS community think is a negative conflict of interest.
OSF’s CEO, Keith Steffen, told me that I was a cancer in the ER which needed to be cut out. He repeatedly told me in his office that bad things were going to come out about me and would shake his head and smile. He was focused on fear among employees. Mr. Steffen was not respectful of my privacy and talked about my firing to many people inside and outside of the medical center. Many people told me. What kind of CEO management style is this for the largest hospital in downstate Illinois?
Chris Lofgren, OSF spokesperson, also spoke “inappropriately” of me and mislead the community about the future of Haitian Hearts.
The Sisters of OSF folded completely while I was being fired and during the character assassination that was being carried out. They refused to get involved and offered me no support. I believe that they were afraid where it would lead and what it could mean for OSF.
The Ethics Committee at OSF never responded to me in five years after multiple requests on my part.
After I was fired, Haitian Hearts was stopped in Peoria, and everyone at OSF Corporate and Administration stuck together. Haitian kid’s surgeries who were already in Peoria were slowed by OSF.
Paul Kramer called the American Consulate in Haiti which negatively influenced travel visas for Haitian kids to come to OSF, even though Sister Judith Ann had promised me that “OSF would never turn down a child”. And Paul Kramer and Linda Arnold attempted to redirect money dedicated to Haitian children to OSF-CHOI.
The Catholic Diocese of Peoria Vicar General (Monsignor Rohlfs) and Canon Law Lawyer (Patricia Gibson) threatened to come out in the media against Haitian Hearts if I attempted to petition for a tribunal court against OSF. (And they had supported the concept of a tribunal court for the previous year.) Haitian kids were being held hostage to Catholic Canon Law.
Bishop Jenky had to decide if he was going to follow Catholic Canon Law and allow a church tribunal against OSF. He said no. He also ignored the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.
After that Bishop Jenky walked away from Haitian Hearts and provided no alternatives for these kids to obtain surgery anywhere. He told me that I would be responsible for their deaths.
Haitian Hearts donated over 1.1 million dollars to OSF-CHOI and we were very happy to do this and very appreciative for the care the Haitian children received. The physicians never sent a bill. In the last five years, OSF has refused new Haitian Hearts patients when partial charges have been offered. They have also refused Haitian patients who were operated at OSF in the past and need repeat heart surgery even when full and partial charges have been offered by Haitian Hearts.
Everyone stuck together. Employees at OSF were intimidated and fear was used to keep people as quiet as possible.
Presently in 2007, OSF is building the largest, most expensive expansion in Peoria’s history, which will include a new Children’s Hospital. And Haitian children needing heart surgery remain trapped in Haiti without the technology to save their lives.
John A. Carroll, MDwww.peoriasmedicalmafia.comwww.dyinginhaiti.blogspot.com
Maria Carroll Says: January 21st, 2007 at 9:04 pm
Being John’s wife, I know I’m probably not the most objective person in the world re: John’s posts and situation. But I do live with the guy, so perhaps I can provide some perspective.
1. First of all, I can sympathize with those of you who are frustrated over John’s single-mindedness and perseverance. More than once when we’ve been in Haiti, and John’s been focused on trying to find a hospital for a dying child and then get the child out of Haiti, I’ve thought (and even said) “Forget it! Give it up! It’s never going to happen!” Well, much to my chastisement, it has happened. Repeatedly. It’s amazing and gratifying to me that a person would spend so much effort on trying to save the life of a child whom no one, except the parents, cares about.
2. Persistence is necessary to change. Starting in 1967, Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin gave a total of 3,211 speeches in a campaign to get the U.S. to support the UN Genocide Convention. Proxmire stopped in 1996 when the U.S. accepted the genocide convention. I am not comparing John’s situation with OSF to genocide (although what’s going on in Haiti could be described as slow motion genocide). But, like Senator Proxmire, John is persistent. This does not bode well for you who are tired of his posts.
3. If you are tired of his posts, I have a suggestion: Walk on by. Or, if you can, contest the content of his posts. Why are you so concerned with trying to control the content and length of posts of someone else’s blog when it’s so easy for you to bypass it? Does it bother you that John’s posts are picked up by other blogs and that since he has been posting on Peoria Pundit, Bill’s hits have soared? If it does, get over it.
4. If you can’t get over it, consider this quote from philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer: All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
I wish you well in your blogging, commenting, and all that you do.