Saturday, October 29, 2005

Conflict in Washington State

Trouble's brewing in Belfair, WA. From (registration required):

Fire District 2 Chief Mike Greene is in the middle of a controversy he didn't foresee when he sought election to the Mason County public hospital board.
In what Greene calls an "attack ad," six Mason General Hospital emergency room doctors say they have "no confidence in Mike Greene as a paramedic." Greene believes the ad stems primarily from a disagreement over rules for transporting patients with brain hemorrhages, especially those caused by a medical condition rather than "trauma."

In a written statement, the fire chief said the policy "endangers the lives of people in my community" and he has asked the state Department of Health to get involved. A DOH complaint against Greene also is being investigated.

At a Belfair candidates' forum last week, Greene told the audience the ad is "disgusting and despicable." His opponent, Don Wilson, answered, "I don't know if this is the proper format to bring that up."

The same ad has been in the county's weekly newspaper twice and in The Kitsap Sun once. In both papers, a line at the top urged voters to re-elect Wilson. The long statement ends, "He (Greene) is not trusted for his medical decision making and administrative motivations by those of us who know him best, and should not be elected to this position." Emergency staff work under the direction of ER physicians, the ad says, and "Mike Greene has a long history of attempts to subvert that control."

Greene placed a lengthy rebuttal in an ad in the weekly Belfair Herald last Thursday. In it, he wrote, "I challenge my opponent to address the emergency medical issues resulting from the DOH investigation."

He said he'd resign from the hospital board if proven wrong and asked Wilson to make the same pledge or "fix the problem."

Kelley McIntosh, chairman of the fire district's board of commissioners, said the five-member board stands firmly behind Greene. He's been District 2 chief since 1993 and a paramedic for 25 years.

"There have never been any questions in regard to his capabilities," she said. "There has never been any criticism, never been anything from the medical program director or any other place of employment."

But it was the county's medical program director, Joe Hoffman, who took the lead in writing the ad. He defends it as a statement of "different and collective opinions" based on the doctors' experiences, some spanning a decade or more. The ad wasn't politically motivated, Hoffman said.

"There are not any fallacies in there." He said he couldn't discuss specifics because of patient confidentiality.


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