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Sunday, December 23, 2007

An Updated Summary of the Fiasco at Emory, Grady and Beyond

I just realized that anyone that picks up this story in the middle would get lost in its many mazes and connections. If anyone reads every single story in the Emory University tag, they would get a full picture, however that maybe beyond reason. First, I must disclose some things. There are things that I can prove. There are things I can assert and there are things that I believe. Finally, there are things that follow the Latin phrase, Res Ipsa Loquitor (the facts speak for themselves). I use different language for each.

So, let's start at the beginning. Emory University's Medical School runs a network of hospitals in the Atlanta area. There are five in all if my facts are right. Three are actually owned by Emory and service predominantly the affluent making them quite profitable. The other two are public hospitals and Emory has sort of contracts to staff them with their professors and students. This is no different than many teaching hospitals and if there are any ER fans, the fake hospital in that show runs in a similar manner.

That said, I want to focus a bit more on the two public hospitals with little profit potential. The first is the VA since veterans get set bills, and the second is Grady. Grady is a hospital for the indigent or very poor. Since poor folks rarely have money or insurance, it is much more difficult to make a profit on them. Grady is also a public hospital meaning that the tax payers ultimately are the ones that finance it. (as most indigent hospitals would be for the reasons that I mentioned. No one is going to want to bankroll a hospital that has no hope of making any real money so it is left to the government) Grady is also massive, one of the biggest hospitals in the country, and so while it provides little profit, it provides a bulk of the training.

Here is where things get interesting. Emory enjoys a lucrative relationship vis a vis Grady (I will explain as I go along how that relationship get consummated so to speak). For instance, they get a fat yearly fee of about 50 million dollars to provide staffing at Grady. Keep in mind that Grady is the training vehicle for most of its medical students. Emory already charges its medical students tuition and uses Grady for a lot of the training that this tuition is supposed to go for. Many people refer to this as double dipping. In other words, Emory University has one of the premiere medical schools in the country and one of the main reasons is their association with Grady Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the country. Thus, Grady provides just as much to Emory is Emory does to Grady. Furthermore, since Grady is a public hospital it is ultimately the tax payers that are stuck with the bill that Emory charges Grady yearly. Also, Grady Hospital pays for Emory's malpractice insurance. It goes without saying that such a relationship invites exploitation.

Exploitation and corruption is what you have at Grady in my opinion, and I really only need to do a Google search to provide plenty of evidence. For instance, Grady Hospital settled a case for Medicare fraud in the late 1990's for about 5 million dollars. A few years later former State Senator Charles Walker committed so much criminality at Grady and beyond that he was ultimately convicted of 127 felonies. (you can click this link for a full write up of the case including its particulars and most importantly what each hero and villain wound up receiving from Grady and Emory) In 2004, the Dept. of Health and Human Services conducted an investigation of Grady Hospital and here are the conclusions,

there is a serious and immediate threat to the health and safety of the patients
That is frankly the equivalent of a builder building you a house that falls down on top of you when you move in. (Only one person was let go in the aftermath, Dr. Andrew Ogwunobi, who has continued to travel an interesting path. You can find his full dossier here. It is important to note that the Chief Medical Officer of Grady Hospital, William Casarella, was cited most often in the actual report. I point this out because Casarella has since been promoted within Emory University. This is important for several reasons not the least of which because it goes to show that in many ways I believe the two entities cross over whenever it suits the powers that be)

Finally, currently Grady is in such financial turmoil that is about to be shut down unless there is a huge infusion of cash, about a hundred million minimum by my estimation. There were also other investigations that started and stopped like an interesting one conducted by the NIH in 2000. While there was ultimately no damning conclusions to those reports, I have my suspicions about how it was exactly that they ended. (for more information on that report and more importantly the role of Kent Alexander, Chief Legal Counsel for Emory University, please go this link. This is probably my most incendiary piece and illicited a flurry of looks from the Emory admin IP upon publishing)

This body of evidence is in my opinion an example of Res Ipsa Loquitor.Now, while Grady is staffed by almost entirely Emory faculty, it is still a public hospital. It has a board and a CEO. The board chooses the CEO, and the board is chosen by the CEO of Dekalb County. The current CEO of Dekalb County is Vernon Jones. He is an elected official with a remarkable knack for thriving in what I would think are dicey political situations. (when I say dicey I mean things like rape accusations, shady land deals, and all sorts of malfeasance by those close to him Just like everything else, I have written a full write up of Jones as well. Jones is I believe the link between the corruption at Grady and the corruption that infects much of Georgia. We have a running debate about who the ultimate ringleader is and one theory is the Dixie Mafia, and you can vote in my fun poll after getting the full scoop)

Now, the problem as I see it is summed up by this cliche, the fox guarding the hen house. The board is supposed to oversee the CEO who is supposed to oversee the staff, and the CEO of Dekalb County is supposed to oversee all of them. The problem is that all the entities, in my estimation, are corrupted. From Jones, to the board, to the CEO, to the staff, the foxes are guarding the hen house so to speak. For instance, one very prominent member of the board was until two years ago Robert Brown. Robert Brown also runs an architecture firm. Three guesses which firm gets many of the most lucrative contracts for Grady expansion. If we dig deep enough, I have no doubt that there would be an almost endless amount of transactions with really or perceived conflicts of interest.

Enter, whistleblower Kevin Kuritzky...first, there is full disclosure here. Kevin and I have developed a tight relationship, and I have even done a radio show with. (It is linked at the end of my piece on Kent Alexander. Kevin is the calm one and I am the hyper one) I have never claimed traditional journalistic objectivity, and I am not a traditional journalist. I believe the quality and accuracy of the information I have provided speaks for itself. Every piece of data has been double and triple sourced minimum. I have hard copies for anything I don't link to like the aforementioned HHS report. (I can email or fax to anyone upon request)

Kevin has made some incendiary accusation about the quality of patient care at Grady Hospital. He claims that Emory staff goes to one of their for profit hospitals when they are supposed to be at Grady and many times he claims they leave medical students unsupervised. (In fact, in this piece I give an example that was verbalized to me by Kuritzky that is frankly straight out of a bad nightmare.) It goes without saying that his accusations, if true, amount to not only an obscene violation of several laws but frankly every doctor's oath. Kuritzky was expelled from medical school with forty one days remaining. (That is in a four year program) Kevin believes the charges are trumped up and he is now in the middle of a law suit. The Emory Wheel inaccurately reported that Kuritzky's case has been dismissed. It hasn't Kuritzky's side has lost a motion that is being appealed. (again, I have seen the disposition of this motion and it is NOT a dismissal) This was inaccurately reported in a trade journal for academics. (The fact that this was written in a trade journal for academics obviously raises all sorts of issues and I explored them here)

Finally, I have counted four former Emory professors that have been paid off for silence. I have only seen the settlement agreement for one pay off. That is for Dr. Jim Murtaugh. He was paid off right around the time that the NIH investigation was happening and he was paid off along with another person, Diane Owen (though her agreement I haven't seen) Murtaugh's settlement has been the subject of much media buzz because State Senator David Shafer has lead a group of state senators who have demanded that it be unsealed (and one main reason why I was able to see the agreement. (If you go here I explore the case of his records being unsealed. Interestingly enough, certain links disappeared in the aftermath of me publishing that, and I explored that here) (also, the Shafer link has some interesting information about who did and didn't approve his settlement so I encourage you to link there)

Now, why should you care? If you are a resident of Georgia, then it is your tax dollars that will ultimately go to fund something you should see is totally corrupt. This corruption is in my opinion part of even bigger corruption that I probably don't even have the full story to. If you are an Emory student, then your tuition, and likely your parent's money (who are you kidding), is contributing to this corruption. Furthermore, if Kevin really was only expelled because he dared blow the whistle on this, what is to stop Emory from targeting someone else. What if you become a threat to them for this or for anything? Clearly, if you believe my assertions, Emory eliminates all threats to them. They pay some off and they expel others. If you believe Kevin, then he had his life ruined for daring to the right thing. (he often tells me that his friends still in the medical school tell him that he should have kept his mouth shut and graduated and moved on) Furthermore, if you believe Kevin, then your school exhibits the traits of the common sociopath. Sociopaths with power is the worst combination you can have. If you are a citizen, then you should want that all corruption be dealt with appropriately and people be held responsible.

(UPDATE)Some of you may be wondering where the media in Atlanta fits into all of this. This piece should drive home how the media's coverage, or rather lack thereof, fits into this whole story. This piece contrasts the Atlanta media with another situation in which the media actually did its job. Finally, here is an example of the sort of reporting you will find at the AJC.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

not only is emory scamming and bilking taxpayers and the poor, they are all around abusive and extorts money from everyone.
i applied for my child (10th grader) to attend a selective summer program at emory for high school students who are gifted academically and are financially in need (i also reside 10 minutes from emory). all parts of my application was place and on time, my financial application was verified. i called to inquire about my child's application status, but they would not tell me if my child was "accepted" until i send them $100, and it wasn't guaranteed that my child would be accepted, and the fee was non-refundable. i made calls and emails repeatedly to ask for clarification/explanation but they were adamant on not telling me anything until they receive $100. i didnt have $100 to give to this wealthy hospital system, so therefore my child was left out of the program. this hospital is abusive and an extortionist group. to add their customer service is very very poor and the hospital is dirty. i they will extort money from even the poorest and students in need.
last summer received the same kind of extortion, paid a large company for service and ended up getting no response from them or no service.
your information is a wealth of information