February 11, 2010

'Borderline Riot': Racine's doctors held a tense meeting Wednesday night to complain about All Saints

Nearly all of the doctors who work out of Wheaton-Franciscan All Saints, the former St. Mary's, held a meeting Wednesday night to express their frustration with how Racine's hospital is being run, according to reliable sources.

At least 100 doctors attended the meeting and called for changes in how the hospital, and their jobs, are managed. The meeting was called because the overall morale among local doctors is low, according to the source. At one point during the meeting, someone asked the crowd how many doctors want to leave All Saints. Nearly everyone in the room raised their hand, according to the source.

"It was a borderline riot," according to the source.

If you or anyone you know was at last night's meeting, please send us an email at: racinepost@gmail.com. Anonymity guaranteed to all who write.

Update: Thanks to everyone who's written in. We'll have some follow up stories later today and next week. A few more details on Wednesday's meeting:

* The meeting was held in the Racine Room at the hospital

* All Saints' doctors called the meeting to express their frustration to hospital executives.

* This is in the comments, but it's worth mentioning here. All Saints doctors can't leave and practice at, say, Aurora in Racine because of a non-compete clause in their contracts. Doctors can't practice in Racine for up to a year after they leave All Saints. Doctors say this is frustrating because it basically locks down the Racine market for anyone who wants to compete. For example, if a Racine doctor wants to start their own practice they can't do it locally because of the noncompete clause. Some leave for a neighboring city - like Franklin or Oak Creek - or leave all together.

* We're getting quite a few complaints in the comments and by email about All Saints' billing. We'd like to a pursue a story on this, so if you have any problems with your medical bills, please let us know.


  1. Is "Anonymity guaranteed" to all who give great tips on scandals plaguing city government? Just curious, I could write a best seller at this point.

  2. I certainly realize that All Saints is a screwed up organization on many levels, however, what I don't understand is why these doctors stay at All Saints if it is so terrible?

    If they can do better by starting a private practice, why don't they leave and do that?

    If the answer to the above question is that they have signed contracts and cannot leave or open a private practice w/in a certain distance from All Saints, then who's fault is that? All Saints?

    Perhaps these disgruntled MD's should have left years ago for a better employment opportunity elsewhere.

    Just my thoughts.

  3. The Dr.'s should take a look at themselves. They provide inadequate care. They are very bad at diagnosis. If I were to require something other than normal exam I'd be at Froedert in a "heart beat". Even their exams are a joke - they would not know if you were sick or not.

  4. Doctors are leaving Wheaton. In one department a relatively young doctor left in the last year. I was referred to his replacement, who has since resigned too. I know of a number of doctors who have left Wheaton in hte past few years. None of them wanted to say too much but they clearly weren't happy.

    It sounds like they need new management soon before more good doctors leave. We in SE Wisconsin have the highest healthcare costs in Wisconsin so there must be enough money to pay these folks. It has to be how they are managed.

  5. All Saints - Doctors = Nothing. Doctors care for the most part, All Saints could give a rats a$$ just give us your money.

  6. The problem is that the physician leadership have half their salaries guaranteed by the the organization to represent the management against the doctors. 85% of the revenue generated by All Saints goes to Franklin and Milwaukee depleting whats left for Racine. Result- poorer care for our citizens.

  7. I'm lost.

    Seems everyone has a Wheaton horror story these days. I've been shocked at how much they get bad mouthed by my friends when anything medical comes up. This is by patients (or should I say former patients).

    Just really bad experience or what seems to be incompetence or utter lack of caring. For a frame of reference lots of people I know aren't from here originally. At first I thought it was some of the small town Racine bashing, and I tried to defend our hospital and doctors but after awhile you can't dismiss it so easily.

    One thing I hear quite often is that women don't want to give birth there. I have to admit it made me wonder what the hell is going on over there.

  8. Aren't Doctors Jerry Hardacre, Nick Omdahl, Loren Meyer, & Steve Johnson the "Physician Leadership" of All Saints? What do they think of all this? Why would they allow the physician moral of our only source of medical care in Racine falter to such lows? Do these men actually care for the health of us Racine citizens or are they now only true "Company Men"? If I was having to deal with these issues at my workplace I would want the highest level of management to eliminate the source of the problem. IE fire the men responsible.

  9. In the late 1980s, Racine Medical Group, Kurten Medical Group and the (then) St. Mary's Hospital/St. Luke's Hopsitals merged and it seems things have never run very smoothly since that time.

    There have been mass exoduses of doctors on a number of occasions - some to Aurora, others just leaving town altogether.

    What's happening at All Saints is obviously poor management, but also a symptom of the problems with the current health care system/massive administrative top heavy hospitals and insurance companies, and the loss of control physicians have over their own practices.

    The problems you're seeing at All Saints will be magnified tenfold under a government run health care system.

  10. The problem is that they let the entire anesthesia department go- these are people who live in the community. They replaced them with nurse anesthetists from Florida with 2 years of training. Do I want a board certified anesthesiologist with 12 years of training taking care of my kids or a nurse? I'm going to Aurora.

  11. The physician satisfaction with the organization in 17% (14th percentile) and the satisfaction with the leadership is 1.4%. What do we need to do as Racine citizens to keep the good doctors in town?

  12. All Saints has horrible billing, my kid was born 3 years ago and I finally got the bill. I was in collections- I wanted to pay, but I never got a bill. Everytime I call I have to wait 30 minutes to get someone on the phone. Also can someone freshen up the walls with a new paint job?

  13. I was an All Saints physician, and it took me many years to leave-I kept thinking 'this has to get better.' Physicians are forced to carry enormous patient loads, and expected to meet certain quotas per day/ month which does not allow for compassionate, thorough patient care. The people 'at the top' are very much about the bottom line, and have no idea or have lost the vision of what it takes to work 'in the trenches.' Just like in the business world, fewer people are expected to shoulder more work, from the docs, to the nurses, to the reception staff and technical staff. Shame on us for allowing business people to take over health care. I commend the remaining docs for finally taking a stand.

  14. When you run a hospital as a for profit business, this is the kind of crap that happens. Of course upper management is worried about the bottom line. That's what they do! I bet they make great money rationing patient care by reducing doctor/patient interaction.

    Treating health care like an assembly line makes sense for efficiency and profitability. Heaven forbid you piss off corporate to provide better care and spend more time with people. That would be nuts.

    These are the same types of a-holes that brought us the now famous word: pre-conditions.

    None of us should be surprised.

  15. While management could be a problem, the other possibility is that these doctors suck.

    Perhaps a combination of both.

  16. This is not a new or surprising story. Racinians are re-experiencing the same WFHC issues as with Ain't Saints in 1996-1999 -doctor turnover, poor patient access, long delays, lousy billing services, low employee morale, etc. The reason WFHC can get away with it is the absence of meaningful competition, although Aurora is apparently gaining local momentum. Doctors don't just leave to start private practices because of a restrictive covenant in their contracts, ie, they are legally prohibited from working within Racine County entirely if they quit WFHC. It's just too hard to uproot one's family and to be unemployed for very long. WFHC counts on it! But you can be sure more doctors are looking to relocate and will continue to leave Racine. In my opinion the problems are not solely with the local leadership, but moreso with the Wheaton WFHC corporate executives' attitude toward physicians - that they are merely replaceable "cogs in the wheels," and with WFHS greed. Healthcare may be in crisis nationally, but it's not nearly as troubled elsewhere in Wisconsin as it is in Racine.
    - a former Racine physician

  17. Sounds like a good story for the Post. What is the state of health care service in the Racine hospitals, and how does it compare to other areas of the state.

  18. I am a RN who is apalled at what goes on at Wheaton. There are good people there, but administartion and business office is horrible. My former physician who left Wheaten called them the "Sisters of the Double Cross!"

    Actually when the nuns left and the suits came in, it all changed. Health Care became "Health Business" They got rid of staff with seniority, including good reliable experienced nurses.

    The ER is not emergency care. You must wait any where from 4 to 12 hours to get treated.

    Many nurses have the motto, G.O.T which is code for Get Out of Town.

    Sad but true. I fractured my leg and had my husband with the help of a neighbor get me into our van and we drove to Milwuakee, rather than take our chances at Wheaton.

  19. I went to several different Drs. at All Saints. They do a super quick substandard exam and then tell you that you need an antidepressant and birth control. I prefer the clinic on Northwestern. They have top notch Drs.

  20. My doctor was one of those who left All Saints for Aurora years ago and had to spend a year practicing out of South Milwaukee because of his contract. Thank God he returned to Racine. I consider him one of the best in the city.

  21. I live around the corner from the hospital. When I was pregnant, I travelled to Hartford for my OB/GYN appointments and I gave birth in Menomonee Falls. Too many bad stories going around about what goes on at All Saints.

    We spent 2 years going to All Saints doctors and then said "enough!" They were incompetent or didn't care or both. We're at Aurora now and quite happy.

    And the emergency room - ugh! Just a place for minorities to come for everyday ailments. The wait is horrid. In a TRUE emergency - life or death - sure, well go there. Hey, we're around the corner. But for "normal" emergencies - hello new hospital in Kenosha!

  22. Prompt care is a joke there too. Don't dare have two things that might be wrong at the same time. They can't handle it and barely listen to what you're saying. In and out and next.

  23. If you need prompt care. The Aurora clinic on Washington Ave. is outstanding! I won't go near near anything with WH/AS on their name, what people are saying is true. If I need to go to the hospital we go to Kenosha's Aurora.

  24. A lot of times doctors have to sign a contract that prohibits them from leaving and setting up practice or working for a hospital with in the same community. This way they can't take their patients with them when they leave. This is a loose-loose for doctors and patients and protected profits for the hospital.
    I for one take my car to the mechanic NOT the garage.

  25. Men in Black2/12/2010 8:36 AM

    Bring in Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine and Doctor Howard!

  26. If you're frustrated by the care given at the larger hospitals, see Dr. Zell in the old Kurten clinic building.

    She is excellent! She spends time with her patients, is very thorough, and is willing to go the extra mile for her patients. She has spent a lot of time on the phone with my insurance company explaining to them why I need the medication she prescribed, but they don't want to pay for.

  27. I think All Saints has lost track of being a Non-Profit hospital. They sink all of their funds into new building and forget about the needs of the patients and Docs.

    Their emergency room is a real mess. The billing system is a joke and the hospital administration does not care about the patient. I have two of their doctors that I think are great, but will not go to the hospital for any procedures.

    I have had three surgeries in the last four years and drove to St. Luke's in Milwaukee rather than risking my life at All Saints. I know several people who were admitted for relatively minor ailments who never left the hospital alive.

  28. My physician was one of the four I believe that left Wheaton and went to South Milwaukee for a year and of course we trekked up there. Then he went to Aurora here in Racine. I don't know if the physicians are happy there but we sure as hell are happy with the service we get there.

    At Wheaton, for instance, I had a bill for over 5,000.00. Insurance pays 85%. I had to argue with the billing individual who spoke with marbles in her mouth that the bill I got was billing US for 85%. She told me the problem was the insurance company. I called the insurance company and they said Wheaton billing department is one of the worst they ever dealt with!

    As for the physicians, I see one at All Saints and won't give him up. I get good service, quality time and I don't care if I have to wait an hour.

    Physicians want to live in Racine area for the most part, they send their kids to school. They aren't some sort of foreign bodies that one incises from an infection and tosses away. Listen to what they have to say. Physicians aren't all into the greed factor as some would say. They want to provide excellent care, actually sit and work with the patients. Racine should embrace them, back them up against this ridiculous, herrendously mismanaged hospital.

    As for us,because of the departure of the physicians in anesthesia department, we would go to Aurora hospital in Kenosha.

    As for anonymous protection by Racine Post, I can vouch for that. Dustin is a season reporter who knows how to protect his sources, so spill it so we, as a community can help.

  29. Had a doctor? who had 3-4 patients at a time in his wait rooms. He took two minutes with each, told nurses what he wanted, left and billed. Wife had major problem that out-of-state surgical doctor said our doctor should tend to. He requested nurse to bandage. Another doctor then cared for her. We dropped first doctor, he's still here.
    In the last four years we have had four new doctors as they left the area. In the last year I lost a Dermatologist and general practitioner. I was billed twice for same care, was told it took about two weeks to catch up on payments. They have billing done out of state. No answers here. Hold all payments for year to check there bills.

  30. The problem with Wheaton is the same problem that exists in across the nation today. CORPORATE GREED. Nothing more, nothing less. These pigs sit aroung figuring out how to screw everyone to get a fat bonus in their pocket.

  31. Rich Harding2/12/2010 11:13 AM

    Anon 10:59 evidently experienced the same thing I did. A couple years ago I took a fall and broke both bones in the my lower right leg. I was also concerned that my right elbow may have been broken. When I go into Prompt Care, I told the attending nurse about my arm, it was ignored. When I got in to see the doctor I told the nurse that led me there about my arm. It was ignored. When I saw the doctor, I told her about my arm. She never even looked at it. I could not understand how I could tell three people that I needed my arm checked to see if it was fractured and not one of them even bothered to roll up my sleeve or take an x-ray. When I was finally assigned a permanent doctor, I told him about it and he did nothing. He just said that if it continued to give me trouble to come back and see him.

    The billing is also a nightmare. We’ve been turned over for collection for bills we never received, we’ve been double-billed for procedures and we’ve received bills for things that had already been paid by the insurance company. Their billing department has no clue what they are doing.

    Last Saturday my wife and I went in to see a friend that was admitted on Thursday. We went into the Atrium off Osborne Blvd. We stood at the empty front desk for a couple of minutes, calling into the back for someone to come out and help us find what room she was in. No one ever came. So, we walked over to the pharmacy to be told that the Atrium is closed on weekends. It would have been nice if the hospital had invested in a small 3x5 sign for the information desk indicating that it was closed on weekends, what the hours were, or directing us to the main entrance of the hospital.

    Poor management is a severe understatement.

  32. Are there any independant agencies that monitor and evaluate these hospitals?

    From what I hear, Wheaton would score low. It might stem from management, but I don't know if management change would all of a sudden make these doctors better physicians. Physician quality is also a concern.

  33. I'm curious to hear what these doctors are going to blame their piss poor service on.

    All the story says is that they are not happy with how management is running the hospital. It will be very interesting to get some specifics on what that means.

    Managers can't force doctors to give a sh!t. I hope the doctors are taking a hard look at their own performance in evaluating the total situation as well. I've been to the hospital and it wasn't a manager that was dealing with me - it was a doctor.

    Good to see they are getting together to address the situation. I hope things improve for the sake of the people in Racine.

    Rich's example up above is a good one. Other people say they won't risk their life getting a surgery done there. Is that all a management issue? I don't think so. Doctors can expect more out of management but we as consumers also expect more out of our doctors.

  34. Let me just say that I had 2 children at All Saints and had tremendous care and my children had a WONDERFUL pediatrician (who left All Saints a couple of months ago), so overall I had some very positive experiences with All Saints, but the one that will always stick in my head is this....

    I am a healthy, woman in my early 30s. I went to Urgent Care one evening with some chest pain and difficulty breathing and just generally feeling horrible. The triage nurse discovered I had a 104.3 fever and immediately gave me ibuprofen. I then saw a doc who told me it was probably a little upper respiratory infection, gave me some meds and sent me home.

    About 3 hours later, I started having extreme pains almost like a heart attack. I could barely breathe. I honestly thought I might die, so I was rushed to ER. At the ER, they gave me oxygen then some valium b/c my heart was racing. They took blood and X-rays. At the end of the evening, I was told that I probably had a little walking pneumonia and was given pain pills and antiobiotics and sent home. I felt pretty good (thanks to valium).

    When I went home, my fever continued to rage but I followed medicine prescription. About 10:00 a.m., I became violently ill so ill that I began to have seizures. I was rushed back to the ER. Again, more oxygen, more lab work, more xrays. At this point, the doc tells me that I was borderline admittance the evening prior b/c I had pneumonia on both lungs. I was in the hospital for 3 days! It took them 48 hours to get my fever down. When I arrived at the hospital the last time, my fever was more than 105.

    Medicine is not an exact science (I understand that as most of my family are in the medical profession), but it does seem that there is sometimes a lack of patient care at All Saints. And finally let me just say, it wasn't like I didn't have good insurance. Some might say I had the 'Cadillac' of insurances so I am not sure why I was admitted after the first visit to the ER.

  35. 1:04

    My guess is that maybe the doctors get penalized for having too many patients admitted because it isn't cost effective. I bet they want to minimize the stays and who knows, perhaps they even get incentivized for sending people home (as if it is always a good thing). Some jackass probably did a study of how many patients were admitted that didn't die and then they calculated an acceptable risk.

    Sound insane?

    Now, I have no idea how the compensation plan works, but I know how business people work. With business people in charge I can tell you that my statement above might not be that far off.

    Can you say efficient and profitable?

  36. I've been to All Saints many times for doctors' visits across multiple disciplines, sudden illness in the emergency room and prompt care.

    With the exception of a lot of difficulty figuring out the billing, I've never experienced any of the problems people are describing here.

    If there are internal disagreements over some management practices, I hope they can work them out.

    In the main, the doctors who've treated me there have been first-rate and the nurses and support staff excellent.

  37. After seeing what my cousin went through there I can sympathize with everyone who's had bad experiences with them.

    There is a lot I could say but I would like to focus on one comment made here.

    "The problems you're seeing at All Saints will be magnified tenfold under a government run health care system."

    It's actually the exact opposite that would happen. Billing would be done through a central system and eliminate most of the billing department there for the most part because you would have almost everyone on one insurance plan with one insurance provider.

    The ER wouldn't be over crowded with people going in for regular care because they would have insurance that would allow them to go to a regular doctor.

    I also think that "physican leadership" compensation would be based on positive medical results instead of volume and that would get rid of the problem of too large of quotas for the rest of the medical staff.

    Racine is a very poor community when you look at the overall average unemployment and poverty. You simply cannot run a for-profit medical facility there without drastic changes in their overall business plan.

    And, maybe if these doctors would each donate 2 hours a week to a free clinic that would help
    eliminate the overcrowding in the ER? I think that if the doctors thought about it as doing 2 hours of missionary work to make their regular work week much better they might just come up with a plan for something like that.

  38. Don't ever go to the emergency room - even if it is an emergency, (not emergency abuse like some do), be ready to spend 5-6 hrs, in the process. In addition, I am unable to get a complete exam from any of the physicians, except one that left town. Lastly make sure you review what the Dr.'s are puting in your exam report - I ran accross a situation, when I reviewed the report, the Dr. reported on things that were not even exam'd - medical fraud. You never see the reports, but you can bet I am going to ask to see it in the future - I suggest you do also.

  39. As a retired nurse - what I see there is pathetic! There are some caring nurses who are over-burdened and are doing what they can. They are probably working against the constraints of their license. When you see long-standing, GOOD doctors leaving (i.e. - Dr. Brockman, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Palm - just to name a few), and due to the contract and covenant, are practicing elsewhere than Racine - what does that tell you??? They, too, are not much more than money-makers, as deemed from the top. They are told how to generate money - double book, see the pt., THEN refer for labs and tests, and have them come back in a few weeks, etc. It is a game that is forced by the men at the top. When my father has been in the hospital - I am there 24/7, to keep an eye on things. In one 7 day day stay - he saw 4 doctors, due to the hospitalist system they have engaged in. What happened to the likes of the old docs from Kurten Clinic, and when we had a choice of St. Luke's or St. Mary's? These were docs who became a part of our community, lived here, raised their families here, and were involved in things outside of their practice. Most nurses and docs now have zip codes outside of Racine! I know I choose not to see a doc here, as the last one misdiagnosed me and I almost lost my life. The drive to MKE is not that far, and worth the care that I receive. Don't even gt me going on the billing system. Someone punched in the wrong code for my dad, showing he was deceased. Medicare denied the claims, even though he was re-admitted after his "death". Do you know what hell it was to go thru with Medicare and get him "undead"? I am still fighting that one.

    We do have a choice, even though it may cause us to drive a little further. Unfortunately, if you go by rescue, you to to WF, but you can request to be stabilized, and have another ambulance service transport you to another facility.

  40. As I read the various blogs of others I can't resist putting my two cents in to this discussion.
    I had worked for the Wheaton’s several years ago and was walked out due to disagreeing with there Method of operation. I have known several Drs. who have been walked also because they wouldn't bend down to there rule.
    Where the bottom line comes first and then the patient second. When the Wheaton’s came into power they came with the soul intent of having a hostel take over of the Medical treatment in this community.
    First they had the merger of St. Luke’s Hospital and then they took over the Alcohol /Drug treatment by grabbing the A-Center, which later became West wind Treatment. after a short period of time they then took that program and merger it with the Psych Unit at St. Luke’s Hospital. When they did that they took AODA treatment back fifty years. What they did were mix people with Mental Health issues with people who had Addiction issues. Then they began to diagnosis people with Mental Health Diagnosis just so they could collect more monies from the Insurance companies.
    The problem with that is they don't treat the primary problem you also place another diagnosis on a person which can affect them later in life. Especially when they try purchasing insurance or even finding work once they are told they are disabled due to having Mental Health issues.
    I can go on for ever about the injustices that I have seen, but I won't. What I want to do is encourage these Drs. to continue there fight and hopefully someone at the top may finally listen to the professionals and not just the suits who don't care about this community or the people they serve.

    This hostility has to stop as this community can not afford to lose any more good Doctors to the bottom line. As it stand now I and my family with drive the extra miles to Milwaukee or even Kenosha just so we can get the proper treatment for our medical needs.

  41. There certainly are good Drs. and bad Drs. just as there everywhere. But All Saints is totally bottom line driven. One should ask how many nurses have left over the past year, and why nurses are working 12 hrs. without breaks or lunch breaks. I am glad the Drs. are protesting, maybe this can help the nurses as well. Our hospital is dirty because there the housekeeping staff is down to bare bones. Yes there are mistakes because there are so many new graduates nurses working without the proper orientation, because so many experienced nurses have left and are planning on leaving. There definitely are problems and now maybe the leaders in the community will wake up and demand some changes over there. I am 100% behind the Drs. and hope that they are 100% behind the nurses.

  42. Well, after reading all the posts, I have to say I'm not surprised. The person who said if morale is low amongst the physicians, then the physicians ought to examine the quality of their practice-where do you think poor quality physicians came from since we're losing all the good ones??? and since they have no time to provide quality care, their hands are tied?? I know morale is low amongst the nurses, why not the physicians? Please bear in mind there are still some good physicians at All Saints-I hope the physicians can effect changes for the better. I still think things went to heck in a hand basket when St. Luke's and St. Mary's merged. Maybe if they were treated with respect by administration and viewed as integral to the survival of the organization??

  43. Putting management in charge of healthcare makes as much sense as putting a physician in charge of manufacturing, at, lets say, Case or Chrysler. Health care requires compassion, and, as a not-for-profit hospital, they need to re-focus on the WORKING STAFF, and patients, not the bottom line.

  44. speaking of compassion from doc's, i had seen a ear doc at all saints[seen?} and if he stood in front of me 5 minutes later i wouldnt have recognised him. thats how fast he was. not a hello, good bye..nothing. he looked in my ears, mumbled something and he was gone. i will never go back to him again.

  45. dr. zell.. at old kurten medical building. went to her once and if i need fast care again she will be the one i see.no prompt care at all saints. they are rude, and act like they are doing you a big favor by seeing you. and the receptionists arent much better.