Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Doctor Reflects on Upmc Psychiatric Care

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Doctor Reflects on Upmc Psychiatric Care

Article excerpt

Psychiatrist Ken Thompson says his contract with UPMC ended in mid-July with a two-paragraph certified letter, thanking him for his service and terminating his contract as of July 31.

Although Dr. Thompson earlier had full-time appointments both with UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine faculty, he most recently had been working only a half-day every other week at UPMC's Latterman Family Health Center in McKeesport, helping patients with "a mix of every kind of psychiatric challenge there is," he said.

Losing that position will not be a major personal financial setback as his practice includes contracts with several outside groups and agencies. In a nutshell, his patient caseload comprises patients who are mostly poor and uninsured, often severely mentally ill, and not uncommonly dealing with accompanying serious physical conditions such as HIV and AIDS.

Working with that demographic "is not big dollars," he noted.

But in reflecting on the end of his 20-plus year association with UPMC this week, Dr. Thompson had two overriding thoughts: The abrupt manner of his dismissal, and what it might say about how we care for the most vulnerable populations.

"The thing that really upset me is that patients have no idea why I left. Did I do something terrible? If any of them hear about this, I want them to know it was not my choice to leave."

He had been treating some of those patients for more than a decade, he added.

UPMC spokeswoman Susan Manko said Dr. Thompson worked "in a very limited basis" at the clinic, which they have reorganized "and now have a full-time behavioral health physician who provides enhanced access to top-quality care for our patients."

"We did inform Dr. Thompson that if any patients wanted to stay with him for continuity of care at his other locations that we would facilitate. …

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