Thursday, September 18, 2008

Senator Grassley Investigates Michelle Obama's Employer

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is investigating the University of Chicago Medical Center about the hospital's efforts to steer patients with non-urgent complaints away from the emergency room to local clinics. He is requesting financial records, board minutes, and other information related to hiring, job promotions, business contracting and care for the poor.

Michelle Obama, wife of presidential candidate, Barack Obama, is currently on leave from her position as the V.P. of community and external relations at the Hospital and she was a key person in the initiative to utilize community clinics.

I have news for Senator Grassley. Emergency departments across the country are in big trouble from over crowding and they are filled with patients who are using the hospital for primary care and non-emergent health issues. The New York State Health Commissioner has said that overcrowded emergency rooms are a sign of a health-care crisis for which there are few rapid, inexpensive or simple solutions.

Emergency department (ED) use has increased 23 percent between 1992 and 2002, while the number of hospital EDs shrunk by 15 percent over the same time. Today, many cities are reporting dramatic rises in ED wait times and ambulance diversions, as insured and uninsured patients are increasingly relying on emergency rooms to seek treatment.

Hospitals all across the country are looking at innovative ways for patients to receive the most appropriate and cost effective treatment. Non-urgent matters SHOULD be treated in community clinics, not the ED.

So, Senator Grassley, do your homework before you open an investigation. The Senate is not your own political playground. You are there to solve problems, not create them.


Anonymous said...

Is he going to do this to every hospital in each state of the US where it has been going on a daily basis for years? He needs to get a clue on reality.
Loved your last paragraph!

Toni Brayer MD said...

KM: No, just the hopsital where Michelle Obama is an executive.

Raymond Bouchayer said...

Is a Republican .....what do we expect ....8 years , 2 wars , economy in the toilet and all this under the Republican watch .....or lack of it .

Good for you DR. Toni .

ERP said...

Seriously. The Republicans were bound to do something like this what with the investigations going on involving Sarah Palin. Grasping at straws I say. I don't even think our right wing medico-blogging ER colleagues would disagree with what Michelle Obabma is doing!

Anonymous said...

I have followed this story since last fall.

Toni, you forgot to mention that UCMC receives tax breaks for providing charity care. In fiscal 2007, UCMC spent $10 million on charity care for the poor, or about 1.3% of its total hospital expenses (Washington Post conducted an analysis in conjunction with the nonprofit Center for Tax and Budget Accountability). The average spent for Cook County medical centers is 2.1%, so UCMC appears to be taking advantage of a public subsidy.

The information that Senator Grassley requested was due last fall. To date the issue remains under review and is unavailable for the general public to view.

But please feel free to make your partisan remarks about him when you don't present all the facts Toni Brayer, MD.