I work in a Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. hospital, one of four in this area, and I feel compelled to respond to Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark's remarks in your July 21 cover story ("Columbia probe widens," p. 2).
Your readers understand that hospitals, as providers of medical services ranging from obstetrics to geriatrics and from emergency care to family counseling, must build themselves around their communities. Columbia is undeniably successful, in part because its size and growth have not collapsed into a "cookie-cutter operation," as Stark claims. Stark must assume hospitals operate like fast-food chains, springing up on every corner, each working off the same menu, all passing unremarkable products out of drive-through windows. Maybe that's how he wants it to work. His statement shows his ignorance of how healthcare in general must operate to improve, and more specifically how Columbia has managed to grow.
The four hospitals in my area each have their own style of leadership. We are not run by commands from Nashville. I cannot speak for the entire corporation, but the hospitals I know do share a common agenda. They are all driven to constantly improve the level of healthcare they provide. Every hospital manager wants his hospital to do well by serving its community and earning public trust. No one condones, practices or encourages any activity that thwarts that goal.
Editor's note: Senft did not identify the Columbia facility where he works.