Doctor explains decision

    People in the Fort Smith metropolitan area have understandably been frightened by recent events in the health care community. In spite of local media reports, Holt-Krock Clinic is not in disarray. And certainly there is no looming disintegration.
    Many of us are committed to prevailing with Holt-Krock, and we do not want to be considered fools for doing so.
    Physicians all over America have become increasingly frustrated as health care has become more market-driven. Admittedly, we do not understand these changes since medical school trained us in medicine and surgery, not business administration.
    Holt-Krock physicians recognized at the time we “sold out” to PhyCor that we were in need of a management team who was trained to make sound business decisions in the complicated health care industry of the 1990's.
    Several physicians, who have become dissatisfied with Holt-Krock and PhyCor, have left. Once they no longer want to play on the team, I think they should be allowed to leave.
    However, the contracts we all willingly signed with PhyCor stipulate that, if we depart, we must pay significant financial penalities.
    Not aware that any of the departing doctors have repaid PhyCor, I have to expect there will be legal battles for months to come over these broken contracts.
    Physicians dream of circumstances returning to the days when we practiced more independently and all decisions were made on a local level. The reality is that government, insurance, and big business will continue to influence the options we have and the money we take home.
    I do not believe the claim that the former Holt-Krock health care providers didn’t leave the Clinic over money.
    It is about money as much as it is other issues. Do you know anyone who does not wish they were making more money? The current guaranteed physician salaries provided by the hospital cannot last indefinitely.
    When these inflated guarantees run out, will we see these guys return to their previously disgruntled state?
    The community needs to be assured that we physicians who are staying at Holt-Krock devote ourselves to cure sometimes, relieve often, and comfort always, just as others have for the past 77 years.
    Lost doctors will be replaced with men and women who are more “team-oriented” than those who left, but they will be just as dedicated to our patients. Do not fear that your health care needs will not be met. Holt-Krock is here to stay.

Michael S. Cole, M.D.
22 October 1998
Southwest Times Record