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Published: Friday, 7/23/2004

Pediatric radiologist leaving for Columbus

BY LUKE SHOCKMAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

"I've had enough," Dr. Daniel Dessner said.

Dr. Dessner, who in December will start working at Columbus Children's Hospital, was one of three physicians who last August formed the 150-member Physicians for the Effective Delivery of Care, or PEDS.

PEDS members say Toledo's two children's hospitals - Toledo Children's Hospital and Mercy Children's Hospital - should unite into a single merged facility. They argue it makes no sense for Toledo to have two competing children's hospitals. They say there are fewer pediatric cases than adult cases, so splitting the volume of patients between the two facilities decreases the quality of care because doctors get less practice. Many add it's also difficult to recruit physicians to the area because of this, and difficult to retain doctors like Dr. Dessner.

A review last year by The Blade found that Toledo is the smallest city in the country with more than one children's hospital.

Dr. Dessner was removed from the hospital board in January by the ProMedica Health System board of trustees. He had served automatically on the board because he was elected chief of the medical staff by his colleagues. The health system board is the controlling body for all ProMedica affiliates, including Toledo Children's Hospital.

Dr. Dessner's ouster triggered rare votes of "no confidence" and "lack of confidence" in February from top physicians on the medical staffs of ProMedica-owned Toledo Hospital and Toledo Children's Hospital. The nonbinding votes were largely symbolic and meant to show displeasure with ProMedica management.

ProMedica board members and other officials have said Dr. Dessner's comments were a "conflict of interest" with his duties as a member of the children's hospital board because they felt he was pushing for the "elimination" of Toledo Children's Hospital.

Dr. Dessner denies this, saying he only encouraged ProMedica to work with its rival, Mercy Health Partners, which owns Mercy Children's Hospital, and unite their pediatric services.

In a letter of criticism sent last week to about 30 of his radiology colleagues and obtained by The Blade, Dr. Dessner said ProMedica's "strong-arm tactics" are hurting patient care.

"To say the current situation is dysfunctional would be a wild understatement," he wrote. "And anyone who does not see this is contributing inevitably to the deterioration in the quality and quantity of care and is deceiving no one but themselves. Those physicians, who could, voted with their feet and left, those who can't, bemoan the madness and try their best to make lemonade out of the lemons that the health care systems have thrown in our community's face."

ProMedica officials declined comment.

Dr. John "Jack" McBride, a Toledo pediatrician who helped form PEDS with Dr. Dessner, said he was saddened to hear of Dr. Dessner's departure. Mr. McBride added that Dr. Dessner is the only pediatric radiologist in northwest Ohio. Columbus, with one children's hospital, has 13.

Several radiologists, not just one, have training in evaluating pediatric patients and practice in northwest Ohio

"Soon, we'll be able to say we used to have a pediatric radiologist, just like we used to say we once had a pediatric heart surgeon," Dr. McBride said. "His leaving definitely harms our ability to serve pediatric patients."

Contact Luke Shockman at:

lshockman@theblade.com

or 419-724-6084.



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