Opinions / Op-eds

St. Luke’s Defamation Farce?

How can a company with several very public issues recover their reputation? St Luke’s hospital seems to think the answer is to attack the patients who have offered honest feedback. However, as a member of the community and having watched St Luke’s PR struggles, I can honestly say that they cannot place blame on anyone other than themselves. Chris Roth, CEO of St Luke’s very clearly stated in an internal interview posted to their website that, “Health care needs to undergo significant change.” He also claims, “We need to intentionally shape and invest in the organization to embrace the greater elements of a learning organization, more team-based, more creative—being OK with failure when appropriate and learning from the things we try.

Many in the community completely agree with these statements. However, it appears Mr Roth does not want this opinion to exist outside the walls of his office. He is using valuable hospital resources funding the Holland and Hart law firm to attack those who offered feedback for a successful “significant organization change.”

Most importantly, Mr. Roth makes a statement that further invites critique and has all the markings of a good, confident leader, “And it ties into culture, because when we are in an environment where we feel comfortable speaking up, speaking out, it ultimately improves care.” One might wonder who Mr. Roth permits to speak up, speak out. Shouldn’t a patient and their family be able to speak publicly of their experience with his hospital? After all, Mr Roth claims to want to be okay with failure. As a consumer and community member, I might carefully (for fear of Mr Roth feigning defamation for my opinion) note where St Luke’s stands in the minds of potential customers.

One recent failure many in the community remember was the healthcare mandate of the covid-19 injection. “If you want to keep your job, then you have to bend on your beliefs and get the shot. And I’m not okay with that…. That’s not capitalism. That’s crony capitalism.” registered nurse Ken Bacus said in a KTVB interview. The mandate was one PR blunder St Luke’s would not recover from.

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Also, a great many complaints against St Luke’s hospital in Boise have been logged on Yelp and other online platforms. If St Luke’s wants to improve their reputation and improve patient care, I’d suggest the large legal budget to attack former patients could be diverted into something good. Possibly an audit is needed to understand why St Luke’s struggled to merely hear valuable feedback from their customers.

A defamation lawsuit against former patients does nothing to improve your reputation. In fact, it is the complete opposite. Mr Roth should have run this short-sighted plot by his marketing team first. Perhaps their next medical waiver will include a patient commitment form to only allow positive feedback of your experience and 5 stars on all yelp reviews.


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3 replies on “St. Luke’s Defamation Farce?”

I would be interested to know if any patient complaints about the mitigation Covid-19 policies of St. Luke’s and their treatment protocols during that time frame have been cataloged and made available to the hospital and medical and nursing staff for their review? Many hospitals and health care systems have publicly addressed patient and staff concerns and made efforts to correct mistakes to better the responses of the organization in the future. Some organizations have even invited outside peer review of their Covid response. One big question the community has the right to know is “did Covid-19 reimbursement policy” regarding coding, treatment and mitigation procedures and procedures and families’ access to sick dying patients have an adverse impact on the doctor patient relationship or clinical outcomes? Another way of stating the question would be: “Did administrative protocols and policies override clinical decision-making, again eroding the sanctity of the doctor patient relationship?

Well said, Ms. Allstot and commenter Dr. John Livingston!

Many who know the truth about St. Luke’s do not want to risk defamation lawsuits or job loss by stating that truth publicly. They’ve seen what happens to those who dare to challenge this mighty, well-funded hospital system.

St. Luke’s must answer questions about its remuneration for implementing disastrous Covid-19 protocols that destroyed the lives and health of so many — patients and employees alike. St. Luke’s also must explain why they have chosen to sue people who reveal bad actions (with proof!) rather than owning up to mistakes and correcting them.

Locals often tell newcomers they would rather have untreated plague (or Covid or cancer) or die in the middle of the street after an accident than be sent to St. Luke’s. This widespread perception of St. Luke’s is a REAL PR nightmare that no amount of spin, highly-paid executives, or expensive lawsuits can deflect.

Trust in our medical institutions and providers is at an all-time low, and nowhere is that trust lower than in St. Luke’s. Pretty words on a website will not repair this mistrust: Only positive actions, dropped defamation lawsuits, a complete change in attitude, full transparency, new administrative personnel, sincere apologies, and making those wronged financially whole can begin to repair the damage to this institution and to the community it is supposed to serve.

I spent 25 years in the healthcare industry. To fully understand what has happened at St. Luke’s, and other integrated healthcare systems, you have to go back to the passing of the ACA (Obamacare).
The ACA coalesced provider options into one bucket; hospital owned and based. Before this push for system integration, large specialty practices wielded a great amount of autonomy away from the hospitals where they practiced. This enabled these providers to keep the sanctity of the patient/physician relationship.
The ACA with the hospital administrator’s help used fear of lower reimbursements and rising costs to convince these practitioners that it would be best for them to cut a deal with the hospitals to be bought out and “integrated” into the hospital itself. Thus, “integrated healthcare”. These physician groups usually received a big chunk of cash up front that made these deals lucrative, but in the long run they were becoming employees with declining pay scales for their services. This was a very foolish thing for these providers, and they regret it now.
This was on top of the environment were small independent hospitals had already integrated into large systems back in the 90’s. This was deemed acceptable by regulators because these were “non-profits” after all and serving their communities.
This corporatist structure has set the stage for medical tyranny that is being practiced at St. Luke’s and other systems. It was always there waiting in the wings, but the onset of Covid-19 allowed it to flourish and go into full swing.
Want to give your patient ivermectin or a high dose of methylprednosolone during their hospitalization? Nope. Sorry, you are an employee and now will follow the erroneous and manipulated standard of care dictated from the CDC/FDA/NIH that will more than likely kill your loved on.
And why would a hospital system CEO or manager of clinical care go along with this madness? That is a very simple answer-money.
The reimbursement structure was and still is in place that they will pay exponentially higher reimbursements for avoiding, detecting, and treating Covid-19. Whether you survive or not is really not their concern. You may think that is a calloused or cynical statement that cannot be true, but it is the truth and we need to accept it and make corrective actions to hold these people and institutions accountable for the sub-standard care based on the evolving data.
Why do you think you still have to wear a mask when entering a St. Luke’s facility?? We all know that common surgical masks that they give out do absolutely nothing to stop the transmission of a bacteria, let alone a virus. As someone who spent the better part of the working day wearing one, we all knew that the efficacy of these masks was to stop large particle transmissions (a cough or sneeze) during a procedure. The idea that these stop a virus was, and still is, laughable.
St. Luke’s is getting reimbursed for all the PPE at elevated rates to play this game. Thinking that they “care” and want to “protect” you is, was, and always will be utter nonsense.
The United States ranks 17th in the world for quality of outcomes in preventative and general care. We spend the most per-capita than any other western country. We rank number 1 in critical care. What does that gap in performance tell you?
It tells you that institutions like St. Luke’s have almost no incentive to prevent or treat a disease or condition early on in it’s manifestation, but rather they wait until you are really, really sick, admitted to the hospital, and then bill the highest procedures and care that they possibly can.
I’ve seen it myself personally in my career. I’ve been a victim of this mentality recently, and it needs to stop.
We must continue to go to our legislature and demand that they implement accountability in these institutions that make business decisions over health and well being decisions.
We will not be able to do that until and unless we are able to limit the influence of IACI, of which all the major healthcare providers are a member of, on our legislators by getting their money out of politics and re-election campaigns.
I will no longer go to St. Luke’s as a willing patient. I found a small, independent provider and will only go there. There are so few of those left that even that may not be an option.
If someone would have told me even 5 years ago that our healthcare system would come to this, I would have said you are crazy.
We now live in an environment of medical tyranny where services are regularly denied to people who need help based on non-scientific ideology and money driven policy.
Stay healthy. Exercise. Get away from processed foods. Find alternative medicine when you can and get off Big Pharma’s poisons when clinically appropriate. They have been lying and falsifying data for decades, and the only silver lining of Covid-19 is that now we know. Companies like Pfizer will always put profit before people’s lives. It is clearly and well documented.
Hold them accountable and don’t back down.

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