By Peter Laird, MD
DaVita and Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) are seeking permission from the Maine regulatory agencies to approve a pending sale of three dialysis centers now run and owned by EMMC. However, they are facing opposition from the nurses unions due to concerns about alleged quality of care issues with DaVita which is currently under investigation by several agencies. The opposing sides met in a public hearing to decide the fate of this sale:
The allegations that DaVita places profits ahead of patient care is not helped by their own CEO, Kent Thiry, who has publicly stated that DaVita is not about the patients, it is about the company and their teammates. (go to 109 minutes and 35 seconds on the following video) Since I just became a DaVita patient myself after my DSI unit was bought out over a year ago by DaVita, my impression is that billing and financial accountability are at the heart of their corporate concern for my treatments.
DaVita is so obsessed with billing for my home dialysis sessions that they have given me a fax machine so that my nurse can do daily reports to the DaVita corporate headquarters even though Kaiser pays only on a monthly basis. Other than daily billing and the burden of sending off a daily fax, I see absolutely no new benefits from DaVita on my behalf. Instead, I am locked into a relationship now with big brother DaVita reviewing my treatments day by day and their mayor securing each and every billable moment. What part of DaVita's village do I now belong and if it is one for all all for one for the mayor and the teammate citizens, who then is my advocate in this huge corporate megalith?
The DaVita village and its citizens who are "all for one and one for all" don't have any place at all for the patient in their company philosophy. This is the chief failing of DaVita in my opinion, as Bill Peckham pointed out recently, if they are the village and Kent Thiry is the mayor, what does that make us patients? I would hope that the patients serviced today at EMMC take the opportunity to learn more about DaVita and their aggressive business tactics that in my opinion come at the expense of the patient. Certainly, for anyone that listens to Kent Thiry state clearly that it is not about the patients, you must wonder what it is that motivates Kent and DaVita if it is not about the patient?
Sadly, there is little that the nurses unions or patients can do to prevent the sale of the EMMC dialysis units to DaVita. This is even more imperative since EMMC is the sole dialysis provider for Bangor Maine and the huge rural area it services. Any patinet who is involuntarily discharged from DaVita will have no other alternative treatment options other than emergency room services which for most patients is an inevitable death sentence. The people of Maine have the evidence before them to reject DaVita and seek alternative assistance for their dialysis needs. Whether the government agencies involved will question the integrity of this corporation and what I consider empty DaVita promises will only be known in its own time.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Maine who include my own close relatives who live in this area and could in the future depend on the outcome of these decisions.