Friday, June 14, 2024
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Letter to the Editor

The North Shore Hospital Board of Directors and administrator, Kimber Wraalsted, have betrayed the trust of our community. Their treatment of a beloved and capable doctor followed by an insulting letter to the public call for immediate action. Resignation and/or recall.

Ours is a community hospital, not the private fiefdom of a privileged few.

Vicki Biggs-Anderson




re. the termination of Dr. Dahlman at North Shore Health

When I first started seeing “outraged” posts on the Cook County Community Conversations fb page I frequent re. the termination of the longest serving physician at North Shore Health I remained skeptical. Although we’ve all seen posts from and heard references to dis-contented employees and poor management at NSH, it was easy to guess that those could easily be due the extremely difficult working conditions during and since the most difficult period of the pandemic. An under appreciated, worn out and short staffed workforce is a breeding ground for discontent and it’s happening nationwide – right? I’ve only lived here a few years. I’d never met Dr. Dahlman and had met only a few of those who were post-ing. It’s also easy to understand that some-times matters of patient confidentiality etc. might require that the reasons given a doctor for his termination remain confidential. When they called for people to write to the board and the administrator, and to show up at the next scheduled NSH board meeting in a show of support, I imagined the possibility of the worst – an ill-tempered and rude group ready to “have their say” whether they were on the agenda or not. I was fearful also that the board might “shut down” and do only what is mini-mally required of them by their standard operating procedures. I attended because I wanted to witness the gathering myself, hear what was said and make up my own mind.

Sadly, the board responded as I’d feared – a half hour closed door meeting, a prepared statement attempting to paint the contractor (WAPITI) as the only appropriate venue for grievances concerning the doctor’s termination, an extended public comment period (for which they seemed to expect gratitude) followed by attendees being dismissed and a return to “normal business.” The 50-60 com-munity members were calm, orderly, courteous and reserved. Seven or eight people spoke passionately in defense of Dr. Dahlman and related several examples of their own experiences with NSH management and pointed out several inconsistencies and unanswered questions in the narratives so far presented by NSH management and the board. Board members remained expressionless throughout, interrupting only once in an attempt to get Dr. Dahlman to shorten his own defense. (Which, according to the doctor, is the only opportunity he’s been given at all.) They offered no response to any of the points that had been raised. The next day they published a press release doubling down on what they’d already said.

I suppose it’s possible we can never know for certain why exactly Dr. Dahlman was terminated but I am certain that the board has handled this entire episode abysmally. The message they’ve sent to the community is that they hold us in contempt. Their refusal to respond to those items that were pointed out by community members has lead me to have very little doubt that the stories I’ve heard from and about employees at NSH are true. There is a culture of fear and intimidation at the hospital. Management seems to have a complete lack of any ability to work with their employees collaboratively. Those employees and our community have suffered and will continue to. There are those who believe the administrator kept the board in the dark re. her communications with the contractor. I have no idea if that’s true or not but if it’s not then I know it’s time for the board to live up to its duties and responsibilities to the community to find out and take appropriate action.

Chuck Heller

Grand Marais

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