Friday, August 27, 2010

Dinner Declined! Policy Approved! Fini!

More and maybe (or maybe not) the last post on the feud between the OSMS and the OSBHE

Members of the Oregon State Medical Society, unrelentingly, came back again and again to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, demanding the right to form an advisory council for policy-making, to ban pay-patients and to argue against full-time paid faculty at the new UOMS Teaching Hospital. They had been met with adamant negative responses to these demands for months.

But it seems to me that the OSMS had learned their school lessons well: We all must have heard the adage from the 1840 Teacher's Manual of Thomas Palmer that reads: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." And try, try again, they did. In the fray, Clyde Foley, executive secretary of the Society, suggested that the Board have dinner with the Society. The Board responded by sending Chancellor Charles D. Byrne to find out just exactly what the Society wanted (even though they knew perfectly well what they wanted) and to tell them in no uncertain terms that they would not rehash the same old arguments.

Board members felt that the issues were more specifically about in-fighting among physicians and less about policies and they believed that they had had enough meetings with the Society. It appeared that the time for discussion was over. The board was literally saying that if you don't have anything new to bring to the table, there is nothing to discuss and no reason to sit down to dinner. We are not willing to have a "rehash" of the same old arguments. The Society wanted an answer to what they deemed a critical question, "If the Dental school can do it, why can't we?" The simple but final retort from the Board is not surprising, "we're against it!" The decision from Board members – Mrs. E. B MacNaughton, Leif Finseth, Hernan Oliver, and R. E. Kleinsorge - was unanimous.

The statement to the Medical Society and the public read: "The state medical society has asked the opinion of the board in regard to establishing a legally constituted committee to be advisory to the board in the operation of the medical school. The board is unalterably opposed to establishing by law such an advisory committee for the following reasons:

1. Legal responsibility for the operation of the medical school should be vested in a single body. Divided authority and responsibility between the two legal bodies would probably lead to conflict.

2. There is no more reason for having an advisory committee to the medical school than to other professional schools of the state system, such as agriculture at the state college, architecture, or law at university, or any other professional school.

3. Such legally constituted advisory committees to professional schools are almost unprecedented in the country.

The state board of higher education and the administrative officers of the medical school, as in the past, will be happy to confer with any committee of the medical society in regard to operating policies of the medical school. It is however, unwilling to share legal responsibility and authority in the operation of the medical school."


"The new teaching hospital is primarily for research and teaching to the benefit of medical students, physicians of the state, and as a public service to the people as a whole, and patients should be admitted without regard to their ability to pay and should be selected by the medical school officials for the contribution their diagnosis and care can contribute to teaching and research. Patients so admitted who can pay all or part of their hospital expense should be charged at the going rate for this service and thereby relieve the state to the extent possible. The new teaching hospital will be ready for operation January 1, 1956… and a carefully considered policy has been adopted by the board for its operation."

Not to put too fine a point on it.

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