UPMC's Asking for Money Is Truly Sick

Article excerpt

Have a few dollars you can spare?

A certain down-on-its-luck monolithic medical institution could use some help.

You've heard of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The gargantuan nonprofit annually provides health care services to more than 4 million people, has more than 43,000 employees and soon will place its logo atop the region's tallest building, the U.S. Steel Tower.

But UPMC's ubiquitous Western Pennsylvania presence unfortunately hasn't translated into financial stability. During the fiscal 2007 year, the company's meager earnings barely topped the $618 million mark.

UPMC obviously isn't making enough money.

How else to explain the letter a UPMC physician recently sent to patients asking for contributions to the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery?

I'm not making that up. UPMC has the audacity to ask the people it treats for money, in addition to what they pay for treatment.

Before quoting from the letter from Dr. Mark Rodosky, we'll pause for a moment to let the faint-of-heart grab smelling salts before they lose consciousness.

Feeling better? OK, good. I was worried.

Rodosky begins the letter with a warm greeting:

"You and I have something very special in common: our doctor- patient relationship. I recognize the trust you put in me and my team, and I thank you for allowing us to treat you."

But before readers can even think, "Gee, Doc, you're welcome," Rodosky hits them up for coin:

"We must have financial resources to create new knowledge from the current generation to the next generation of clinicians and researchers, as well as to translate that knowledge from the laboratory to the patients. …