Recall effort targets Washington Hospital doctor

There’s still fallout at Washington Hospital from Evelyn Li’s film, “Life For Sale.” Doctors, backed by the hospital administration, have started a recall petition against Dr. Bhupinder Bhandari, several sources tell me. Bhandari had been elected by the hospital’s doctors to become Chief of Medical Staff next year.

Bhandari was one of three Washington doctors interviewed in Li’s documentary. Bhandari’s comments were vanilla, and he didn’t specifically refer to Washington Hospital, but the hospital is furious over the film, which it says has no merit.

How mad are they? Well at last week’s board meeting, elected trustees clapped when one doctor urged the board to respond “severely, quickly and expeditiously,” against the doctors who participated in the film.

Later, Hospital CEO Nancy Farber read aloud a petition signed by 276 nurses proclaiming they no longer wanted to work with the doctors and asking the hospital to take action against them.

And, in an even more unusual move, Farber showed security photographs taken of a rally outside the hospital last month and pointed out two doctors who stood with protesters as well as a candidate for the board, Ravi Johal. She intimated that the protest wasn’t organized by nurses’ union over staffing concerns, as was billed, but by Li and supporters of her movie.

Bhandari spoke at the meeting and apologized for his participation in the film.

In seven years of reporting, which has included countless public meetings, I’ve never seen a scene like that. CEOs of public entities do not read aloud calls to essentially fire staff. They also do not show security photographs of a peaceful protest and point out that a hospital doctor and a candidate for the board were in attendance.  But that’s what happened. It was truly stunning.


Abridged Washington Hospital Board Candidate Debate

I stayed late at work today to blog the League of Women Voters candidate forum for Washington Hospital. This was supposed to be a live blogging exercise, but I had some technical and gastric difficulties — and I took a quick peek at the Cowboys-Eagles game — so instead this is a wrap up.

Quick background, the race got more interesting when one of the candidates, Dr. Evelyn Li, spearheaded a movie that is very critical of the hospital. And last week, Washington CEO Nancy Farber showed the board of trustees security photos taken at a rally outside the hospital last month, which both Li and the other challenger Ravi Johal attended.

The two incumbents, Pat Danielson and Bill Nicholson, support the hospital administration in the face of the movie and didn’t exactly rush to defend Johal when Farber insinuated that he had a link to Li by saying he was at the same rally as her. Drama.

I’m leaving out a few questions and giving partial reactions to questions about Medicare reimbursements and concerns about the hospital not providing flu shots one year. Sorry, but I’m doing this on my own time/dime.

Opening statements:

Pat Danielson: You are Washington Hospital and so is she. She mentions the hospital’s “Patient-first ethic.” That is the hospital’s motto. If last week’s board meeting is any indication, board members and administrators use it with the same frequency that teenagers say “like” and “you know,” and Elmer Fudd says “wascally wabbit.”

Bill Nicholson: Touts experience. He was first elected in 1998. He’s a cardiologist who practices at the hospital, and his wife practices there too. Says he provides strong steady leadership.

Ravi Johal: He’s a lawyer, and possibly a well-connected one, because he’s just rattled off a long list of endorsements, including ones from John Dutra, Alberto Torrico, and at least 4/5ths of the Fremont City Council.

Let’s fast-forward to the movie, “Life for Sale.” Evelyn Li didn’t show up for the debate.

Johal: He didn’t take a stand on it. Says there are two sides to every story and the community should be left to decide the merit of Li’s allegations.

Danielson: She didn’t see it, but she was educated about it at the recent board meeting, which btw, I watched on tape. She says no one should be afraid to go to Washington for treatment.

Nicholson: He mentions the patient-first ethic. The movie is an “outrageous attack on nurses and doctors of Washington Hospital,” he said. He said it’s incorrect on almost every count.

Fast Foward again: Is CEO Nancy Farber’s $580 + bonus annual salary justified?

Nicholson: He said that people in health care are paid well and that the board’s policy is that Farber should be in the 65th percentile of CEO’s in her peer group. He’s comfortable that that is the case.

Johal: He hedges: Farber’s salary, “bothers the community to some extent and it doesn’t bother the community to some extent,” he said. Johal says he will hold everybody accountable.

Danielson: Big defense of Farber. “She is worth every single penny she earns, and the board supports her entirely.” Continue Reading


Documentary slams Washington Hospital

Some candidates for public office roll out a web site or put up signs. Evelyn Li helped make a movie. The Fremont cardiologist, who has been warring with Washington Hospital for several years, today helped unveil a documentary film, “Life for Sale,” which alleges that hospitals intentionally discharge patients who still need care, and retaliate against doctors who to fight the discharges.

The roughly 90-minute movie will be playing at the Cinedome 8 Fremont from Friday through next Thursday. Li, who is running for the Washington Hospital Board of directors in November and served as a film consultant, says that Washington Hospital administrators targeted her for dismissal after she canceled a discharge order for a patient too sick to go home.

Although the filmmakers said the movie is about the hospital industry in general, most of the specific allegations of improper care and administrative heavy handedness were directed at Washington.

A former and current Washington doctor said in the film that hospitals pressure doctors to release patients too early and financially reward doctors who play by hospital rules. They also said that hospitals use peer review as a weapon against doctors who defy hospital orders.

The movie mentioned the $500,000+ salary of Washington CEO Nancy Farber several times. Li was portrayed as a saint.

For the web site click here:

And here is the trailer: