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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Emory Wheel/Emory University = Pravda/Soviet Union

Introduction: If this is your first exposure to the matters revolving around the troubled plight of Grady Hospital and the corruption that I believe surrounds it at Emory University and forces in the counties around there, then I suggest that you read the summary that I link to at the end and several times throughout the piece. This story has many mazes and it is difficult to follow and that is one reason that I believe that the obscene amounts of corruption has continued. People simply don't understand the whole story. I believe that what is going on there must be exposed and the piece you are going to read is integral to the whole puzzle and I hope that that if anyone is confused they DON'T merely move on, but read the summary which gives an outline of the entire fiasco. If you do, you should be able to follow this piece as well.

This is the first amendment to the Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There is a reason why the first amendment is first, not second third or tenth. It is the most important amendment and to me the most important part is the establishment of a free press. While the right to speak freely is virtuous and deeply important, the right of the press is especially important because the press has a reach and power that single individuals don't have.

To understand how important the first amendment is one only needs to look at press that aren't free. In despotic regimes all over the world the press hides the truth from its citizenry and instead engages in the practice of being a mouth piece for their administration. In despotic regimes everywhere the press is a tool of propaganda rather than truth telling.

I believe that the Emory Wheel is engaged in exactly such a practice for the administration at Emory vis a vis Grady Hospital and other malfeasance as any press in any corrupt and despotic regime. The only difference is that in regimes like Iran they cover up murder, slaughter, torture and terrorism while at Emory University they are "merely" covering up the administration's contribution to the pilfering of one of the biggest hospitals in the world, while poor folks get nighmarish treatment and the tax payers have millions of dollars corrupted. Obviously, everything is relative however in this case merely being mentioned in the same breath is not only shameful it is downright tragic.

The unfortunate thing is that the right role of the Emory Wheel is to be a watchdog of its own powerful forces and in their case those forces are the administration itself. Rather than use their first amendment powers to check the administration, that newspaper has become nothing more than a mouthpiece.

The first evidence is a simple word search of the Emory wheel. If you enter Grady Hospital into the Emory Wheel word search, you find 26 articles. Let's compare that to some other searches. The girl's basketball team leads the word searches with 520 articles. (all right the cynic will say that given their sports section this would be natural...fine...) Even the shuttle service is covered more than Grady Hospital. It has 50 articles. The absurdity doesn't end there. The Dalai Lama is referenced more in the Emory Wheel (86 times) than the main teaching hospital at its own medical school.

Keep in mind. Grady isn't merely one of the three biggest hospitals in the country. It isn't merely the main teaching hospital for the Emory University Medical School. The medical school doesn't merely account for about 75% of the revenues at Emory University. Grady hospital is in a state of financial crisis. It has also been cited by JCAHO for patient care. JCAHO is now threatening to revoke Grady's accreditation. This is only the second hospital in the history of hospitals to have such a step taken. The other one being King Drew in California. In other words, there is all sorts of big news all around Grady Hospital. Thus, it isn't merely inexcusable that Grady has a near communication shut down at the Emory Wheel but it is corrupt. I am fond of the Latin phrase, Res Ipsa Loquitur (the facts speak for themselves). Given everything that I just mentioned Res Ipsa Loquitur applies when trying to prove that the Emory Wheel has become a corrupt mouth piece for the administration.

The cynic would argue that incompetence and youth could explain the facts I just laid out. The cynic might be right if those were the only facts.

Let's look at the case of Steve Stein. On September 9th, he wrote this...

It’s not exactly a smoking gun, but the latest revelation in the Grady hospital saga — that Emory may be taking advantage of its influence with the struggling trauma center — raises questions the University must answer soon. State Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) went on the attack in a recent blogpost (, implying that Emory doctors improperly bill Grady for their services. Similar allegations have already been made, but Shafer outlines the most compelling critique of Emory yet.

Shafer, who based his blog post on a two and a half year old audit of Emory’s record keeping he acquired through an open records request, writes:“[I]n a practice that is denounced by the auditors, its faculty physiciansrecord their time at Grady a mere four weeks each year (one week per quarter)and then make a guess at how much time they spend at Grady for the remaining 48weeks of the year, using the four weeks of recorded time as a guide. Emory thenbills Grady for the full 52 weeks of work. Doing the math, that means there is no documentation for 92 percent of Emory’s bills for supervisory and administrative services.”

This was a rather damning and incendiary article. That's why it was quite peculiar to find the same author eight days later writing this...

A town hall meeting about Grady Memorial Hospital last week served as a perfect metaphor for the troubled trauma center’s saga: snide attacks superseded solutions, chaos trumped compromise and Emory became the focus of unjustified attacks — again.One thing is certain: The crusade against Emory by people like loca lactivist Ron Marshall and state Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) has officially turned into a witch hunt.

Last week, I wrote that Shafer had raised important questions in his blog about the Emory-Grady relationship that the University had to answer. Most importantly, I wanted to know whether allegations that Emory doctors improperly billed Grady for their services were accurate.

Emory has answered these questions and has done so convincingly —the answer is a definite “no.” In a recent press release, School of Medicine Dean Thomas Lawley and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Michael Johns provided evidence to show that the University’s time-recording practices compare favorably to those at other hospitals. Lawley and Johns made a more than adequate defense of their position. The attacks, however, have not abated.

That is a near 180 degree turn around in eight days. Only Stein knows what motivated him, however the facts as they have come out since have shown that his first article was a lot closer to the truth than his second. If Emory is the victim of "unjustified attacks", why is the hospital that is staffed 90% by their faculty now being threatened with revocation of their accreditation. Furthermore, it was the work of Ron Marshall, the activist that Stein claims was conducting a witch hunt, that was most vital in forcing JCAHO's hand in this matter.

As for Shafer, the other person that Stein refers to as the aggressor in a witch hunt. It was Shafer that lead the charge to unseal the records in the case of Dr. Jim Murtaugh. In it we found out that Dr. Murtaugh was paid off to the tune of 1.6 million dollars and silenced at the exact same time that the NIH was investigating Grady Hospital. Furthermore, Shafer discovered this...

Former Grady trustee Bill Loughrey tells me that the settlement with Dr. Murtagh was never approved or even accurately described to Grady’s board of trustees. He says that he was stunned to learn that tax dollars were paid to Dr. Murtagh, conditioned on his silence. He thinks the agreement is invalid and that the judicial process has been misused.

In other words, a public hospital used public funds to pay off and silence an employee without the permission of its board. Again, Stein can claim that Marshall and Shafer are on a witch hunt however the facts speak for themselves.

Keep in mind that Marshall was a main driving force in the subsequent decision by the JCAHO to threaten Grady with revocation of its accreditation. Again, this isn't a small step but a huge step. This has only happened once before and that was to King Drew. This is the story that force JCAHO's hand.

It might have gone down as the death of a "quasi-transient" woman with a history of abusing drugs. That's how the May 9 death of Edith Isabel Rodriguez was initially reported to the Los Angeles County coroner's office.But five weeks later, her demise has become a cause celebre, a symbol of bureaucratic indifference. It is fraught with significance not just for one struggling inner-city hospital but for political and health leaders in the Los Angeles area and perhaps beyond. The county Sheriff's Department, health officials and the Board of Supervisors all are feverishly trying to determine who was to blame and how to prevent a recurring...

Despite a long history of problems at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, two things set the Rodriguez case apart: the existence of a security videotape showing the woman writhing for 45 minutes on the floor of the emergency room lobby and the public release this week of two 911 calls in which witnesses unsuccessfully pleaded with sheriff's dispatchers for help.

Grady is now in a dubious category with a hospital that stood by while a patient pleaded for help for forty five minutes before collapsing on the floor an dying. In other words, JCAHO didn't move simply because some records were misplaced. They moved because the patient care at Grady was equivalent to the case at King Drew. So, while Stein referred to Shafer and Marshall as perpetrators of a witch hunt, it is clear that their concerns weren't merely demagoguery. Stein's contribution to this story end there.

The Wheel's don't. Then, there is this commentary from the editorial staff. (This was entitled Baby Steps for Grady)

It’s two steps forward, one step back for Grady Hospital.

After a two-month recess, Grady’s board of directors has finally agreed to cede power over to a non-profit organization. Such a move follows the recommendations made to the hospital months ago by state politicians, area businesspeople and Emory itself and will allow the hospital to seek funding more easily from outside sources, not just Fulton and DeKalb counties.

But the changeover comes with a catch: The board will allow the new management to take charge only if the Georgia legislature and local business leaders pledge in writing to raise nearly half a billion dollars for Grady — $50 million of which would be due before the board changes power. The legislature will be required to pledge an additional $30 million annually to help keep the hospital up and running. Of particular note to Emory, which along with Morehouse supplies the doctors who work at Grady, the board also wants to freeze current staffing levels at the hospital.

More money for Grady isn’t a bad thing. With funding like that requested, the hospital could pay back its debts, including nearly $45 million in labor costs owed to Emory. Unfortunately, now is not the time for ultimatums from the hospital’s directors. State officials have made it clear they aren’t willing to be told what to do by the governing board of a hospital. If the board can’t reach an agreement with the legislature and other sources of funding, then they say there may be no restructuring, and Grady will be back to square one, struggling to stay afloat.

The reason that I say that this is laughable is that this piece came a week before JCAHO's damning indictment. JCAHO's action means that this hospital is in need of a complete overhaul not baby steps. More importantly, JCAHO's damning indictment or any analysis of it wasn't ever reported in the Emory Wheel. Just this semi puff piece in which they claimed that a privatization plan would allow Emory to seek funds more easily was published in the Wheel.

Next, there is the case of Eileen Smith. Smith is a former veteran staffer, twenty plus years even, of the Emory Wheel. Here is a brief rundown of her story.

The surprise departure of the longtime general manager of Emory University’s student newspaper has journalists there accusing administration officials of trying to assert more control over the twice-weekly paper’s operations.

On Wednesday, Karen Salisbury, assistant dean for campus life and director of student activities at Emory, sent an e-mail to the editor of the Emory Wheel, Geoff Pallay, indicating that Eileen Smith had resigned her position as the paper’s general manager. In that position, Smith helped students garner advertising revenue to fund the operations of the paper.

“I expect that you may want a statement for the paper and also that you may have questions (both from a journalistic standpoint and as a practical matter) about what steps will be taken and when to go about finding a replacement for Eileen,” Salisbury said in the e-mail. “I’m not sure what those answers are just yet.… I’m sure you understand that as a personnel issue all information is confidential, and I am not at liberty to speak to you or anyone else about any details of this matter.” Salisbury was unavailable to elaborate on her comments for this article.Pallay was incredulous. “I talked to Eileen the day before and everything was fine,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “She talked about being in the office the rest of the week.”

Smith had also recently moved to a house closer to Emory’s campus, and she e-mailed several current and former newspaper staff members to share the news of her departure. She declined to comment for this article. Her daughter indicated that she is seeking legal advice about her situation.

First, what is really peculiar is that the article I referenced comes from a blog I found through a Google search not from the Emory Wheel. The story is this. Smith, suddenly over one week end, either resigned or was fired and then immediately became silent regarding the details of her departure. I have been able to discover some more back ground details. First, Smith had been in contact with former Emory student Kevin Kuritzky in the weeks leading up to her dismissal. Kuritzky was a former med student (who just happened to be expelled 41 days prior to graduation) that had leveled serious charges against Emory and Grady Hospital. Kuritzky told me that Smith was ready to publish his story right before she was dismissed. I also found out that Smith's daughter attended Emory at the time of her dismissal and subsequent silence.

A search of Emory Wheel for Eileen Smith finds all of seven articles and NONE, NONE, related to her sudden dismissal and silence. It appears that the sudden, unexpected, and mostly unexplained dismissal of a twenty year staffer from the Emory Wheel is not worthy of being covered in the Emory Wheel. In fact, blogs, the AP, and other outside sources had significantly more information about this story than anything published in the very paper she worked at.

What about Kevin Kuritzky? He has leveled some serious charges against Emory and he has been expelled 41 days prior to graduating from medical school. I would say this is a story. There are two references to Kevin Kuritzky in the Emory Wheel. The first is a story that talks about the initial suit Kevin filed. This story spent far more time discussing Emory's motion to dismiss than anything Kevin had to say and it spent no time detailing any of the specific charges that Kuritzky made against Emory vis a vis their care at Grady and the VA. The second is this one by Dua Hassan claiming that the suit against Emory by Kuritzky had been dismissed. The problem is that the suit hasn't been dismissed but rather Emory won a motion and it has been appealed. This is a peculiar piece of misinformation.

What is more peculiar is that a medical student is mysteriously expelled 41 days prior to graduating. That student claims to have leveled serious and DOCUMENTED charges against the school and the hospital they run (the same hospital that is now in need of 500 million dollars to stay afloat and also is being threatened by JCAHO with revocation of its license) and the school newspaper doesn't see fit to run more than two stories about the matter. Is it not news that a medical student was expelled? What if Kuritzky's allegations are true? Isn't that something the student body needs to know? If an Emory student read the Wheel, they wouldn't know if he was or wasn't telling the truth because his allegations aren't investigated or reported.

Like I said, when proving that the Emory Wheel is nothing more than a corrupt mouthpiece for a corrupt administration, the Latin phrase, Res Ipsa Loquitur, applies.

Now, some cynics may even ask, why should I care? So what if some college newspaper is run poorly or even in a corrupt manner. I believe that the Emory Wheel is vital in the plans of the administration at Emory University. In order for their pilfering of Grady Hospital to continue (If you are still unconvinced that Grady is being pilfered and Emory is in the middle, I suggest you read this summary or a full dossier can be found here) the students at Emory must be kept in the dark. In fact, the administration must even be portrayed in a positive light. Information must disseminated in a very careful manner. God forbid that any student sees something that isn't controlled by the administration. That's why my blog is such a threat to the administration and why their admin IP pays my blog a visit daily. If anything but the carefully crafted image that Emory has wielded is ever discovered by enough of the student body, the perverbial wheels, no pun intended, would come off. Thus, it is my supposition that the Emory Wheel must remain a mouth piece not an independent newspaper in order for the corruption, I believe exists, to continue.


Much of the information that I have provided in this piece was actually discovered a while ago. I initially held out in writing this piece because I attempted to reach out to the Wheel in an attempt to insist that they do their duty and expose the truth. Because they didn't respond to my request, I am forced to pen this piece. I warned the Wheel that history will judge the heroes and the villains in this case. I warned them that I would play a significant role in the way history was written on this matter. I warned them that if they didn't reach back they would be painted as the corrupt mouthpieces for the corrupt administration that they are. They didn't heed my warning and I was left with this.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, this story has many mazes that can be difficult to follow. You can either read the entire Grady Hospital tag, or more realistically, you can read this summary. Also, Grady Hospital is in need of an overhaul. Despite what the Emory Wheel claims I believe the privatization plan is nothing but a sham. I believe it will only lead Grady further down the abyss. Here are the recommendations that I along with mostly my colleagues have put together.

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