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Published: Wednesday, 1/26/2011

ProMedica, FTC must bargain

The public is unaware that a Federal Trade Commission denial of ProMedica's acquisition of St. Luke's Hospital would not prevent ProMedica from considering other expansion opportunities ("Hospital competition?", editorial, Jan. 16).

ProMedica could construct another medical/hospital facility on the prime property that it already owns in St. Luke's service area. Ironically, while such a new facility would unnecessarily duplicate services and further erode St. Luke's long-term sustainability, it would achieve the FTC goal of increased competition. In this particular situation, what is good for the FTC is not good for the Toledo community.

Based on the information in Blade articles, it is also highly unlikely that any other health system would obligate itself to the degree of financial and service support that ProMedica has done. Moreover,St. Luke'sis the beneficiary of improvements made by ProMedica, at the expense of ProMedica, although there is the possibility that it could ultimately lose the FTC challenge.

As late as July 24, 2009, Dan Wakeman, St. Luke's chief executive officer, wrote to community leaders: "Because St. Luke's is independent, we are able to be more innovative, agile, and responsive to change." Times have changed dramatically for the facility. As with all organizations, the board of trustees of St. Luke's is ultimately responsible for the situation in which it finds itself.

To address FTC concerns, ProMedica could consider placing a ceiling on annual price increases. It could also agree to account annually for its financial commitments, improvement of services, and cost-saving projections related to this specific transaction. Compromise is necessary on the part of both parties.

The fact is that the University of Toledo-ProMedica relationship has a greater potential for anti-competitive behavior in Northwest Ohio than does the St. Luke's-ProMedica transaction. The FTC would do well to monitor that relationship in future years, and allow the ProMedica acquisition of St. Luke's to proceed.

Darryl Lippman

Sylvania

Editor's Note: The writer is a former president and CEO of Mercy Health Partners and St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

Merger may bring better service

The Federal Trade Commission has a responsibility to review the proposed merger of ProMedica Health System and St. Luke's Hospital. The health-care industry is not exempt from the challenges of running a viable business.

I have had direct experience with high quality health care provided by ProMedica facilities. From the greeter at the hospital entrance to the discharge planner, ProMedica's goal is to provide excellent health-care services.

St. Luke's Hospital strives to provide the same excellent care. The combination of these organizations will only improve the quality of care in our community. They can learn from each other, as well as combine new medical research and advances.

This merger will enable people in southwest Toledo and other communities to continue to have an exceptional health-care facility near their home. Several of my friends are physicians at St. Luke's Hospital. They say they have seen an increase in patients since the merger agreement, and that their patients are happy to get care in their own community.

Toledo Hospital has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to improve its facilities, technologies and overall ability to provide excellent health care. We should be supportive of its endeavors and look favorably at competitors working more closely together.

Duke Wheeler

Edgehill Road

Consider U.S. human rights

The recent visit by Chinese dignitaries has brought out the worst of some Americans, often bringing embarrassment to our nation. Their loud, ineffective, and often crudely stated complaints about China's human-rights policy make us look like a nation of uninformed hypocrites ("Chinese leader grilled on rights, North Korea," Jan. 21).

Our Chinese visitors could have easily retaliated by mentioning our torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.

They could have mentioned our policy of extraordinary rendition, a fancy title for sending anyone our government chooses to accuse of terrorism to other countries for torture, without trial or proof. They could have mentioned medicine's use of institutionalized children in the 1940s and 1950s for nuclear experimentation. They might have mentioned our infamous enslavement of millions for financial gain until the end of the Civil War.

But the Chinese response was simply a polite admission of the need for improvement, a response that left them with an acceptable image and left us looking rude and uneducated. The truth is that most Chinese citizens are happy with the progress their nation is making.

Maybe we should be more concerned about our own human-rights problems. Ironically, many of those complaining the loudest are pressing to remove the recently attained human right of health care for all Americans.

We have a desperate need for greater diplomacy to replace our diminishing ability to bully. Spreading ill will only serves to drive potential friends away, compelling them to ally with others we can't get along with.

David A. Warner

Temperance

Learn Chinese at a new site

Because Toledo is so determined to sell various parts of the city to the Chinese, why don't city officials sell them Libbey High School as well?

The deficit will decrease and we will have a place where we can all gather on Saturday mornings to learn Mandarin and Cantonese.

Michelle Morris

Bromley Drive

Make a pit stop when it gets tough

With apologies to my high school Latin teacher and the assistance of translation-guide.com, I wish to suggest a new motto for Toledo City Council: "Ut ut iens adepto lentus - lentus peto bathroom." Roughly translated, it means: "When the going gets tough - the tough go to the bathroom" ("Bathroom break derails water, sewer rate hike," Jan. 26).

Now that's leadership.

Jamie Black

Waterville

Huckleberry story a nice relief

I enjoyed reading your Jan. 24 article "Holland Huckleberry crosses over from predictor to perpetual pet," about the groundhog Holland Huckleberry.

It was a nice change to read a human-interest article instead of stories about wars, the economy, murders, unemployment, and all the world's other miseries.

Rose O'Leary

Sylvania

Take bull's eye off vacant homes

Our West Toledo house sits between two foreclosed properties, which have stood vacant for almost a year. We have tried to do our civic duty and watch for problems that might arise. Unfortunately, both houses have been broken into and copper piping was stripped from the premises.

It's bad enough that we are seeing our neighborhood decline and our property values fall. It's worse when banks and utility companies compound the problemby putting out the welcome mat to criminals.

The banks post in the front windows signs that give a number to call in case of an emergency. Utility companies put neon stickers on the front doors, stating that the utilities will be or have been turned off.

Instead of asking neighbors to watch and to call if they see anything suspicious, banks and utility companies post a bull's eye on vacant houses.

It's time to remove this kind of welcome mat from vacant homes.

Jenni Johns

Talbot Street



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