Second Opinions

“Kinky, your absence is going to be more devastating than Dan Rather’s leaving the ‘sunken anchor’ biz. Please rethink your aspirations!”

Second Opinions

I was shocked by how my interview concerning the breakup of the Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine was portrayed in Ms. Mimi Swartz’s article [“ Till Death Do Us Part,” March 2005]. The article takes events out of sequence and my statements out of context so that they convey a different meaning.

Below are five specific examples of her mischaracterizations:

Most disturbing is her implication that I intended to say to Baylor “We will bury you.” In no part of the interview did I say or imply anything of the sort. As a longtime supporter of Baylor, it is unimaginable that my comments or Methodist’s actions could be interpreted this way.

Second, in November 2003, when Baylor made the decision to end talks with Methodist and open them with St. Luke’s Hospital, she claims I said that Methodist announced new patient facilities and a research institute as a “subliminal message” intended to threaten Baylor. I emphatically deny saying those words to her. The patient facilities were conceived years before Baylor’s decision, and with the full participation of Baylor. The Research Institute, announced two months after Baylor’s decision, was the first step in the process of maintaining Methodist as a first-tier academic hospital.

Third, Ms. Swartz uses my statements to imply that Methodist was trying to threaten Baylor in the negotiations. In fact, when Baylor turned to St. Luke’s, Methodist had no choice but to devise a new strategic plan in which Baylor had indicated its desire to play a lesser role. Ms. Swartz altered the meaning of my statements to imply that Methodist was on a new course. I said, “If in the future Baylor comes back to the negotiating table, Methodist could be on a different path.” This simply meant that if resumed at a later date, talks could be more difficult if both institutions went in different directions. My statement was made out of sadness and concern that the affiliation was ending.

The fourth mischaracterization comes when I am quoted as saying “Methodist is not going to play second fiddle to St. Luke’s.” This was not said in November 2003, as implied, but in April 2004, after Baylor had signed an agreement with St. Luke’s. I said Methodist could not play second fiddle because we would have sustained financial and strategic harm by signing an agreement limited by the new St. Luke’s agreement.

The last error involves the quote “We’ve gotten a divorce, but the wife still wants to live in the master bedroom.” Ms. Swartz places this quote so it appears to refer to a threatened lawsuit by Baylor when in fact it refers to the split-up of joint programs, shared ownership of facilities, joint chiefs of clinical service, common physicians, and shared office space that have been a part of Methodist/Baylor for fifty years.

I worked extremely hard to keep Baylor and Methodist together. My family and I have been strong financial supporters of Baylor for over thirty years, and I would never wish harm to Baylor. It is my sincere hope that both Baylor and Methodist succeed with their new arrangements

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