Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson and School of Medicine leadership are blasting a recent decision by Tenet Healthcare Corp., owner of the Detroit Medical Center, to oust WSU pediatricians from Children’s Hospital of Michigan after decades of service and in the midst of the city’s struggles with the coronavirus outbreak.
“Our outstanding pediatric faculty physicians, who have cared for sick children in Children’s Hospital of Michigan for decades, will now be summarily evicted from the place they practice and separated from the patients they serve,” said the university. “Their passion for children and their credentials remain steadfast. What has changed is that Tenet, a for-profit company based in Dallas, is once again prioritizing profits over patients. Rather than responding to our inquiries about how this decision was reached after prior assurances that doctors could continue to serve their patients, we were informed that we must contact a high-priced law firm hired by Tenet to defend this unconscionable decision.
“This immoral act puts children at risk and separates doctors from patients in the midst of a global pandemic. We will vigorously oppose this despicable act, and urge members of our community and government leaders to do likewise.”
So far, Tenet has refused to offer any explanation for the ban on the nearly 25 doctors who form Wayne Pediatrics, instead referring inquiries by Wayne State leaders to law firm Jones Day.
Meanwhile, Mark Schweitzer, M.D., dean of the Wayne State School of Medicine, noted that the decision to bar the pediatricians from the hospital marked a complete reversal of hospital leaders’ earlier position.
“The decision comes only a few weeks after Audrey Gregory, the new chief executive officer of the Detroit Medical Center, assured Wayne State officials that Children’s Hospital of Michigan has an ‘open medical staff,’ allowing physicians who meet requirements and standards to provide care in the hospital,” said Schweitzer. “Wayne State University physicians meet those standards.”
With Detroit reeling from nearly 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID -19, university officials expressed concern that Tenet’s decision not only marks yet another vindictive turn in the for-profit corporation’s years-long efforts to destroy ties between WSU and the Detroit Medical Center, but that it will also unfairly punish the area’s children.
“This disturbs me to my marrow and runs counter to everything I was taught by my parents and learned during my more than three-decade medical career,” added Schweitzer. “The CEO of Tenet made nearly $15 million in 2018. How many children could receive preventive medical care for that unseemly amount? Maybe every child in the city of Detroit?”
Conversely, throughout the pandemic, Wayne State has extended numerous good-faith acts to Tenet at the request of its CEO, including recently providing campus residence hall space to DMC physicians and health care workers.