February 15, 2010

Doctor: Wheaton-Franciscan will be 'unresponsive' to concerns

We've been blown away by the response to our stories last week about Wheaton-Franciscan and Racine's doctors. Dozens of comments have poured in offering incredible, pointed and, at times, frightening example of the deficiencies with Racine's primary health care provider.

Out of the many, here's one that stood out. Dr. Rodney Malinowski was fired by All Saints Healthcare in 1998 after speaking out about All Saints' restrictive covenant that prevented local doctors splitting off and starting their own clinics. While the JT doesn't have his commentary online, here are letters in response that give a flavor of what he wrote (here, too).

Dr. Malinowski weighed in on RacinePost about the current dispute and suggests Racine can do better than Wheaton-Franciscan. Here's his comment, in full:
I am a former Racine physician now working in a different Wisconsin community, but I still have ties to Racine. I read these blog comments with interest, because these are the very same issues which prompted the exodus of fifty-some physicians from Racine in 1996-1998, and led to my highly publicized termination from All Saints in 1998.

From my former experience, I will say that Wheaton's leadership will be unresponsive to community pressure to change. The corporate execs and public relations personnel will always put a WFHC "positive spin" on the issues, and paint the doctors as greedy. For those who hope Wheaton would release All Saints from its umbrella - forget it! Wheaton OWNS St. Mary's. The only thing which will change WFHC's behavior is competition from another hospital system which would impact their revenues. That's an issue the mayor and city government could facilitate. Otherwise, the Racine Common Council really cannot interfere in the operation of a private business.
As for the Journal Times' reporting, recognize that WFHC is one of their largest advertising clients. They are not going to bite the hand that feeds them. And the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters? They get their information, if any, on these events from their CEO, John Oliverio. What bias do you suppose he has? The one thing doctors and Racinians can do is to make certain the Chairman and Board of Directors of the hospital system are aware of these problems. They, too, get a biased presentation from Oliverio at board meetings, but at least some of these corporate citizens have an interest in Racine's future health care.
Do know that you still have many well trained and caring providers at WFHC, but they are fearful of retaliation if they speak out publicly. Fortunately, I don't have to fear them anymore. And a word of support for all the frustrated doctors and staff who are fighting for your principles and patients' best interests - take heart that situations are NOT like this all over the state. There are many hospital systems which have respectful, trusting, collaborative relationships with their medical staffs, employed or independent. I now work for one of them.
Rodney W. Malinowski, MD

Keep the comments flowing in. We're compiling a list of concerns for a bigger story this week about Wheaton-Franciscan's billing problems and the looming split between the health care provider and its doctors.


  1. I would get collection notices for medical bills that 1. Were never submitted to insurance 2. From places I had no clue as to who they were 3. A few for services I never got. What they can't get blood from a turnip so screw WF

  2. Thank you to the Racine Post and the Journal Times for posting these stories and comments. (As noted above, WF is a Journal Times' advertiser, and they're putting a better spin on it.) This is what community journalism is about: identifying a problem in the community and allowing the people to speak about it. The problems at our local hospital have been the source of rumor and gossip for years and years. Thank you again for finally shining some light on an area that is of great concern to all Racine residents. Too bad that situations have to deteriorate so badly before someone hollers about it.

    I have horror stories about care at WF, too, but I think the important thing now is what can we do about it?

  3. Maybe WFHC will get the message if we all start going to Aurora in great numbers. The Aurora experience is a much better experience. They follow up to make sure you are OK.

    WFHC just sends you inaccurate billing after your doctor's visit.

  4. I suppose after all the comments WHFC will be hold a meeting on Monday morning on how to ignore the whole situation....for patients, employees, and physicians! Please get it! WE ARE UNHAPPY WITH YOU!!!!

  5. To Wheaton: Please don't send out a computer survey for your employee satisfaction....TALK TO US!

  6. Racine Post - Be sure to go back to the other story on the billing issues. There were many on that other comment thread! I am still waiting for my $100 credit for copays I never had to pay that they cannot find but I have proof of paying. Bill sent to collections unknowingly becuase an old address crept back into thier systems and we never go the statements. Being charged 2x for an office vist in the same day that I have to spend a total of 2 hours trying to convince them they screwed up. My daughter being charged for flouride and a vaccination during an office visit that she never got. I was there the whole time! Billing for wrong services/tests being sent to the insurance company. Even though I was not paying, rather the insurance company, I felt it was the right thing to do correcting thier errors and trying to screw the insurace company for paying gor things they never provided.

  7. I wish I could go to Aurora! I cant because I have insurance through the state for my family and they do not take Deans.

  8. Wheaton will not take this lying down. Just like unions, expect them to hiring specialists or do some payoffs to spear the doctors and do a smear campaign.

  9. I will just go to the hospital in Kenosha. I do just about everything else there now. Racine really needs to get itself together.

  10. I recently got a bill from WF for a surgical procedure that had occurred 16 months before. Actually I'm pretty OK with that. Where else can you get a 16-month interest free loan these days?

  11. In response to Dr. Malinowski's letter, a letter to Ken Buser or John Olivera only results in a form letter that basically states that in some way that it is your fault. If you didn't have the problem with your health, you would not have had to visit us and experienced such a problem with our facility.

    They plain and simple don't listen!!!!

    What about all the older nurses that they made re-apply for their jobs a few years ago; i.e., Kathy Kirk, Pat Nelson, Karen Severson, etc. They didn't get their old positions back because they were all older women and on the heavy side.

    Ken Buser and Thad Johnson only like the young skinny ones; i.e., Margarot Mallory, Karen Ouimet who are both a waste of time.

    Thad wouldn't even say hi to you in the hallway unless you were skinny and had a short skirt on! I should know, I saw it and experienced it as a former employee.

    Glad I don't work at that place any more.

    Wake-up Racine and find health care elsewhere.

    People aren't attracted to this city because of poor health care and schools that don't know how to teach.

    See you all at Froedtert and/or St. Luke's in Milwaukee.

  12. Dr. Malinowski got fired for standing up to All Saints. But did you know patients can be fired too? Yup, if you complain too much they will refuse to accept you as a patient at any of their doctors. They just consider you banned. This happened to me and as it turned out they did me a huge favor. I just went to Kenosha and found such an improvement over Racine that I did not look back. No billing errors, fantastic customer service and competent doctors and nurses. Best kept secret around. OOPS, now everyone knows. True story, by the way.

  13. I'm waiting to hear if my physician is among those planning to leave. In the meantime, I'm investigating other options for care for my chronic conditions. If my physician ISN'T leaving the mess that is Wheaton Franciscan, I will be!

  14. I am an emplyee of All Saints. I've had many surgeries in the past few years. Do you think that I had any at All Saints? Nope. The only thing that is not a joke there is the employees. They have many, many caring employees, but many are very frustrated. They get written up for anything.

    Billing and management tops the list. I think that their billing needs to be looked into by an outside firm - too many mistakes to think that double/over billing is not being done on purpose. We got a bill from there fives years after service. How can anyone remember what happed five years ago? I think that's why they hoope and that you will just pay the bill.

    There are of course some docs who are problems, but mostly it's the system. See as many patients as you can in a day. Cram them in and get them out as fast as you can (the emergency room too). Doctors can only see/treat you for the problem that you called about initially, the system won't let them treat other symptoms. Need to call for another appointment.

    The system id definitely broken and no matter how much spin you try, you're not going to get out of this one.

  15. If Wheaton goes down, I'd like to see the Journal Times go with them. The way their piece read was like this was no big deal...a couple of doctors might leave because they want more money, but all-in all very cordial....nothing to see here....

    It takes all of a minute of reading all of this on the Post to realize there is a big problem here that is impacting lots of people and the Journal Times just glossed over it. Unbelievable.

    Down with Wheaton management and down with their friends the Journal Times!

  16. "Doctors can only see/treat you for the problem that you called about initially, the system won't let them treat other symptoms. Need to call for another appointment."

    You must have been to their prompt care! I thought it was just me.

  17. So instead of looking at this issue in depth the Journal Times has decided to ask the people of Racine what games would be held if the Olympics was in Racine. I swear I can't even make this crap up. It is on their homepage.

    Here's a proposed JT TOPIC:

    What is your opinion of the health care services at Wheaton?

    I know, it isn't as awesome and impactful as the imaginary Racine Olympics, but who knows....

  18. Anybody else pay the co-pay at the time of the visit only to be sent to collections for the same amount of the already paid co-pay? I was so fed up I moved my entire family to Aurora and haven't had a billing problem since. Of course, I still get the collection agency calls re: Wheaton.

  19. I guess the JT ran out of ideas for the fake Racine Olympics and moved on.

    So long kringle toss....we hardly knew you.

  20. I bet 4:42 is a JT employee. That was posted like 2 minutes after the link hit their site.

    This from the organization that refuses to reference the work that Dustin/Pete have done at the Racine Post to break this story.

    It isn't the first time it has happened either and I find it outrageous and arrogant on the JT's part.

    We should all click that link to subscribe to the Racine Post and donate some money. Without them this would not have hit the light of day because you know the JT wouldn't cover it. Just look how they glossed over the whole thing so far. Simply amazing.

    50 doctors willing to walk out and they don't see fit to aggressively pursue the story until forced to do so. Just remember that Racine when it comes time to renew your subscription to the Journal Times. Remember who was really there with these stories. The Racine Post.

  21. Wow! "Anonymous". Thank our soliders for all that they are doing overseas right now for our right of FREEDOM OF SPEECH!

  22. Where do I start? I worked for All Saints for about one year. I quit that job, pronto. I could not believe the mess their records were in. Lost health files on employees was just one aspect. They trumped up files ready for when inspectors came in to document necessary training and vaccines. Criminal behavior!

    While there are many good employees, there are many who are not. That system is very scary.

    I have been calling there for months to try to get them to stop billing for an erroneous bill medicare wouldn't pay on a doctor visit 2 years ago. This relative was subsequently a medicaid patient with funds wiped out by nursing homes. She has been dead now for one year (their window has passed) but the bills continue monthly despite numerous attempts on my part to correct their error.

    Go to a Milwaukee hospital and all health care workers there have heard horrendous war stories from Racine patients.

    The most frightening thing is that if you need to call 9-1-1, you have NO choice. You go there.

    Dr. Malinowski is one of the best surgeons Racine has ever had. What a shame they pushed him and other great care givers out...

  23. All Saints billing so so screwed up no one is able to figure it out. We received a bill for my deceased Father 18 months after he passed away and the date of service was 18 months BEFORE he passed away. I refused to pay it and told them the estate was closed.

  24. We've been fortunate and have had wonderful treatment from the doctors at St. Mary's but I have to toally agree with the messed up billing system. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I sent an email to the billing staff and have not heard back yet. Imagaine my surprise when one day I called and balances were zero and the next day (becasue I received an EOB from an insurance company I have never heard of) we had a balance of over $200 from 2 years ago. When I asked for an explanation, the customer service rep stated, "I cannot assist you because I am on the East coast and I will send you back into the call cue and hope that you get connected with a Milwaukee representative." What?!?!?!? Who had this much time to spend on the phone. Tried paying bills online but that doesn't seem to work either. Create a local billing company!

  25. Management at Wheaton blows ass by whatever means necessary. They want you to believe them but they are very manipulative, especially that Margaret Mallnory. But we as employees see that they are only trying to focus on pleasing the physicans right now. They say FUCK the staff they dont count. I just hope when they are done with pleasing the doctors they jump down on the bottom of the card deck and help us out! PLEASE
    John Olivero --- I sent you a letter about management in the Womens Health Pavilion before and you brushed it under the rug.... Oh yeah you must be fucking them too!

  26. The worse thing about Wheaton is it's poorly run potpartum unit. The management there are jokes. Krista and Margaret are mean nasty people. If you aaren't in there little group of lunch buddies, WATCH OUT, they will get you. They are out to get there employees instead of supporying them. Why does Wheaton allow them to continue as mahagers and run it into the ground? After having a baby, the hospital stay should be enjoying. Not at Wheaton, where the managers are more concerned about yelling at employeed overstupid things tha patients having a comfortable stay. Margaret is evil, Last JAnuary while letting people go because of financial trouble, she almost did it with a smile on her face and was rude. She has no compassion for her employees or her patients. Wheaton should find a person who actually likes people and has a little morale. Come on Wheaton get with it, weed out the problem people and run the hospital better.

  27. I worked for Wheaton also from 2002-2005 and concerns and complaints weren't listened to - but boy did they want to be "one of the best places to work" -- so they played that game until they were given the designation by an outside organization - what a joke! I now have an aversion to going to the doctor when I should because I have had 3 leave and been reassigned to a new doc -- I
    also had an outpatient proceedure done in 2003 which was just recently billed entirely to me because my insurance company said it was a pre existing issue - yada yada yada -- but why am I just finding this out in 2009??? I thought it was all paid and taken care of.

  28. The only way this is going to be resolved is if wfhc gets out of the picture.

    All the doc's i know there just want to do their thing and get a fair salary. Most are above average physicians that are getting raped by wfhc. I guess i would get sick of it after awhile too.

    I worked there for 4 years and finally had enough of the propaganda of mission vision values that was being shoved down my throat on a daily basis, only to watch wfhc destroy our hospital. They do nothing but use religion as a mask for corporate greed. Get rid of John Oliverio and you can solve half the problem.

  29. My wife works All Saints and has been there for over 15+ years. While she is happy in her job, she also has frustrations. The sad thing about it is that I listen to her and all I can do is offer suggestions. The manager is the dept. is more worried about the morning meetings than dealing with the real problems at hand. All saints can do all the surveys they want of employee's but if they do not seriously use the survey's to weed out the bad managers and also employee's that are causing morale issues and also problems within the system what good does it do?
    If the issue is Olivero take it to the board of directors, stop beating around the bush. If that doesn't work picket. People you have to speak up and if you don't you have no one to blame but yourself.

  30. Interesting information: When WFHC was trying to come up with over $30-million in savings, why would they add people to VP's positions thus increasing wages from the savings. Then tell employee's no wage increase or if there is any it will be very small?

  31. I'm new to the area and find all of this very disheartening. Health care everywhere is a mess. Does anyone out there want to be constructive? What kind of hosptial do you want in Racine anyway? Let's get the ball rolling and tell em what we want.

  32. Our entire family switched to Aurora Health Care about 12 years ago because of billing issues and having to wait months for an appointment. There was no problem with our doctors. Our doctors were excellent. My doctor at the time, Dr. Tom Vravick was very sincere and caring. The problem is not the doctors at Wheaton, its the management and the administration.

    My family has gotten great service and care at Aurora Health Care and we are not a bit disappointed with the switch. Ya gotta love Dr. Robert Brown, (everyone does), Dr. Ned Mejali and Dr. Mahmood Shaikh. There absolutely the best. And we can't say enough about their nurses and the rest of the staff at Aurora. They are down to earth human beings and they treat you great.

    If my memory serves me right, I believe all 3 of these doctors were part of the group that left All-Saints and were not allowed to practice here in Racine for some ridiculous period of time many years ago. Racine is extremely blessed to have these 3 Aurora doctors back practicing again in our community along with the Aurora Health Care System.

    And by the way, we don't have billing problems anymore.

    We wish all the doctors and nursing staff at Wheaton Franciscan the best and pray that everything works out for the best for all of you.

    Unlike many of the posters on this post I will sign my name to what I write.

    John Valko
    Mt. Pleasant, WI.