Hospital board member criticized in meeting - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Hospital board member criticized in meeting

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November 10, 2005

Albany -- Yelling, cursing and finger pointing at the Phoebe Putney Hospital Authority meeting Thursday. Several board members are angry over Dr. Charles Gebhardt's statement that uninsured patients get inferior healthcare.

They think Gebhardt's comments reflect negatively on the hospital, but Dr. Gebhardt says he stands by his statement.  Dr. Chuck Medenhall said "I just can't stand for that. I think you need to clarify your remarks."

Finger pointing, even curses yelled by Hospital Board Members as they questioned Dr. Charles Gebhardt. Dr. William George said "In my judgement is totally irresponsible." Dr. Charles Gebhardt said "All right, we disagree."

The Phoebe Medical Staff President stated in a speech Monday that nationally people without health insurance do not get the quality health care that those with insurance do.

The Board said people might think he was including Phoebe in that statement. Dr. Medenhall said "If Phillip Roberts sees that, he is going to be on you like white on rice." Dr. Gebhardt said "He is welcome to come on, because I said what I said and I meant what I meant."

Hospital board members railed that Gebhardt's speech was damaging to their mission of serving indigent patients. Dr. George said "there was a clear implication in your remarks, and any reasonable person would arrive at that same conclusion." Dr. Gebhardt said "That's not what I was saying."

After about thirty minutes of complaints about his remarks, Dr. Gebhardt said the discussion was good. Dr. Gebhardt said "I think disagreement is healthy. I think the process that developed in the board meeting today was very healthy."

 Phoebe C.E.O. Joel Wernick "We encourage as much debate about health care as possible. I think it's also important when we see that things are misrepresented or misconstrued, that it's important for us to have the public understand our point of view."

 Will you continue to make club speeches, talking with people? Dr. Gebhardt said "Absolutely. I will continue to speak my mind."

Wernick said the Board of Directors will not ask Dr. Gebhardt to step down.

The Hospital Board agreed to meet with Albany industry leaders concerned about total health care costs. Dr. Gebhardt said that was his main point all along.

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