To the Editor:

The well-known Missourian, Mark Twain, once said:  “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”

Mr. Clemens would surely not disparage The Memphis Democrat nor its editor, Chris Feeney. However, he might have a thing or two to say about recent “Letters to the Editor” by Shultz, Day, and McKee, regarding Scotland County Hospital. When only one side presents a “sour grapes” and seemingly vindictive perspective, it is quite probable that reading and absorbing such is going to leave one misinformed, at minimum.

To address Mrs. Shultz’s latest, May 30th letter, our CEO, Dr. Tobler’s acceptance to the board of Crossrivers Quality Health Partners will financially cost taxpayers nothing. Crossrivers is a consortium of primarily physicians who provide a “think tank” to collaborate with one another. They work together to improve effective delivery of healthcare in a manner that will enhance and improve the experience for physicians, clinics, hospitals, and patients.  As to “how it affects our taxpayers”, Dr. Tobler will receive a stipend from Crossrivers to compensate for his time at board meetings, which he will be donating back to Scotland County Hospital.

Nurse Practitioner, Marilyn Day, also offered a few “parting shots” in her letter on May 30th. Just to clarify, I do remember a few years ago when Mrs. Day announced her retirement as a Nurse Practitioner.   Shortly thereafter, she decided she wanted to work part-time, but not enough to penalize her retirement. The hospital brought her back in part-time employment, accommodating her desires.   Recently, due to changes in personnel and shifts in scheduling, the most reasonable route was to change the day Mrs. Day worked at the Wyaconda Clinic, from Monday to Tuesday. Apparently, this change is what prompted a resignation with two days notice, (not 60 days), and Mrs. Day was gone, hired by Matt McKee of Scotland County Pharmacy. 

So, this brings us to Mr. McKee’s lengthy letter, printed in last week’s Democrat. If you waded through the entire treatise, you deserve real kudos. If you’re still confused, that is understandable. Just realize that there really is “more than one side to any story”, and all that the letter by Mr. McKee presents is one (biased) side. 

Do you really believe that doing things Matt McKee’s way, according to his much touted “deal”, would bring a million more dollars to Scotland County Hospital? Would your hospital Board walk away from that? Do you believe it’s just “as simple as cashing the check”, as Mr. McKee says? Does Scotland County Hospital “continue to refuse to work with Scotland County Pharmacy for some unknown reason”, as Mr. McKee asserts? Surely such questions, posed by him, will lead inquiring minds to wonder, “There’s got to be more to the story than this!”

As Mr. McKee stated, our contract ended with him in June 2016, and in his words, “negotiations stalled”. Why do you suppose this happened? Frankly, because he was unwilling to enter into a reasonable contract. Frankly, because his demands for up to three times more reimbursement than Riders or Knox County Pharmacy contracts were unreasonable.  Frankly, because it would be irresponsible and unethical to acquiesce to unreasonable demands, just because the pharmacy is “local”. 

Bottom line – it was not SCH refusing to work with Matt McKee, it was he who walked away. The hospital refused to be held hostage to his demands. In his letter, Mr. McKee referenced both Riders and Knox County Pharmacies. Thanks, Mr. McKee. We can point to them as pharmacies with which we have a good relationship, who are happy to work with the Hospital, have had no issues, and both of them have the same 340B “deal’, which Scotland County Pharmacy refuses.   Why does Mr. McKee refuse to contract with the same terms as these other independent pharmacies?  The hospital can’t answer that. Only Mr. McKee can. 

Finally, we hear the word ‘outsourcing’ thrown about a lot by naysayers, complainers, and people who purport to “care” about the hospital, yet take every opportunity to tear it down.   To sum up this issue, the Hospital’s primary interest and commitment is assuring quality and stability. A more accurate term to use would be “best sourcing”. No employees have ever been fired or replaced for fulfilling their job descriptions and doing their very best. While we take seriously the employment of local talent, all employees must both show up for work and be able to effectively perform the jobs given. If they don’t, they won’t, or they can’t, then alternatives must be sought, and sometimes those are found outside the immediate area.

I’ll close with an illustrative example. ‘Outsourcing’ housekeeping tasks to Llewellyn’s of Kirksville was done at a comparable cost to the hospital, being the employer, minus the headaches. Local employees had the opportunity to be hired by Llewellyns. While spectators may stand on the sidelines and throw rotten tomatoes at our CEO, Dr. Randy Tobler continues to lead by example. You probably wouldn’t expect to find a CEO willing to do housekeeping, such as cleaning restrooms. But when housekeeping employees didn’t “show up for work”, that’s exactly what Dr. Tobler did, as well as other leaders on the hospital team. They did the work when some employees were “no-shows”. Do you think all the grumblers and naysayers out there would ever humble themselves in that way or foster such leadership by example? The culture at SCH has been in transformation and the commitment is to working as a team, being a well-oiled machine, that offers the very best in quality, compassionate care to the public we serve.

Remember that the loudest voices you may be hearing, are often noisy and confusing, but that doesn’t make them accurate or truthful.

Robert Neese

SCH Board Member