It is not our practice to comment publicly on any matter, and certainly not on opinions published in the Chattanoogan.com, but the shameful article regarding Erlanger by Mr. Exum demands a response from the elected leadership of the Erlanger Medical Staff. The reasons for this response are two-fold.
First, as leaders of the Medical Staff, we are in a position to see and understand much of what happens at Erlanger.
It is important for Erlanger staff and our community to know that while these are difficult and extraordinary times, Erlanger is not in “chaos”. We interact with Dr. Jackson daily and meet with the Erlanger Board of Trustees in closed session for an open discussion at each meeting. The Chief of Staff is a member of the Board. The reality is that the communication between the Medical Staff and the Erlanger Board of Trustees has never been more open than it is today.
Second, and more importantly, the Erlanger Medical staff is responsible for the quality of care our patients receive. We work hard everyday to take care of our patients, and when we fail to meet our expectations or our patient’s needs, we work with hospital management to try to resolve any outstanding issues. These are difficult discussions in any hospital, particularly in a place like Erlanger. In our experience with Dr. Jackson, as Chief Medical Officer and CEO, he has shown an unwavering commitment to patient care and respect for the medical and nursing staff even in the adverse circumstances of the previous administration.
What is in chaos is the practice of medicine. Never before have physicians been more stressed or confronted with more uncertainty about their future. Corporate practice, hospital employment, challenges with trying to run a private practice are all on the minds of physicians today. The problems of physician burnout were well documented prior to the COVID pandemic, now physicians are even fearful for their own health as well as their families. It has now become common place for a physician to change practices in line with their personal interests. While it is not surprising that some physicians would blame a hospital CEO for their circumstances, it is disappointing that, rather than working with the Medical Staff and the Erlanger Board of Trustees for change, they chose to anonymously rant to a gossip columnist. This is neither helpful nor constructive.
Erlanger has been and remains the most uniquely underfunded public hospital in America for the scale and scope of the services provided to our community and region. These financial challenges will only grow as the effects of the COVID pandemic continue to manifest itself in even more uncompensated care at our county hospital. Dr. Jackson has worked tirelessly to manage this seemingly impossible situation to the best of his ability. He has strengths and weaknesses as do we all. But what is true about Dr. Will Jackson is something that he shares with the Medical Staff leadership and the Erlanger Board- he believes in the Erlanger mission of service to our community and our patients. Not every Erlanger CEO has demonstrated that commitment in the past.
Ultimately, it is the Erlanger Board of Trustees that will judge the leadership and performance of Dr. Jackson. The Board will hear our opinions and judgements, as well as all others who care to share them. Poorly sourced political hatchet jobs do not serve the public interest and make our job of taking care of patients at Erlanger that much harder.
Dr. Jackson has our full support and gratitude for all of his hard work.
Jim Bolton, MD
Chief of Staff
Chris Young, MD
Vice-Chief of Staff
Chris Poole, MD
Secretary of the Medical Staff
Jay Sizemore, MD
Past Chief of Staff