800 Patients Suddenly Lose Their Doctor Due to MedStar Discrimination
Patients, health providers, and community activists will hold a protest and press conference outside of the entrance of the Johnston Medical Building (3333 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD) at Union Memorial Hospital at 11:00 am on Thursday, May 10.
The protest is against MedStar, which recently dropped Dr. Shawn Dhillon, a primary care doctor at Union Memorial for 16 years since he completed his residency in internal medicine there. Dr. Dhillon was dropped without cause from MedStar’s insurance plans, immediately terminating half of the patients in his practice and pressuring him to leave.
There were never any complaints against Dr. Dhillon by his more than 1,500 patients and his patients frequently brought family members and friends to see him. Dr. Dhillon provided the same compassionate, non-discriminatory care to everyone, rich or poor, black, brown or white, young or old, as he aspired to take the best possible care of each of his patients.
"I simply cannot believe that my patients, staff and I were treated in this abrupt and undignified manner. There was no respect or regard for the much-needed continuity of care or the strong trust and bond created over several years between patients, staff and myself," said Dr. Dhillon. "I am utterly shocked at how the same system that I graduated from, spent over 20 years at, supported daily as a primary care provider and aspired to retire from, treated us. It breaks my heart to see my patients so hurt, so helpless, and so violated. The phone calls, letters, kind words and tears continue to pour in daily and are truly overwhelming."
In an act of blatant discrimination, MedStar kept the Medicare Advantage and private insurance patients, reassigning them to an adult care clinic at Union Memorial, but got rid of roughly 400 poor patients by assigning the Medicaid patients to an inner-city clinic unaffiliated with Union Memorial.
Seemingly typical of MedStar, as reported recently about their actions at Franklin Square Medical Center where critical services were closed, this was done without warning. To make it worse, MedStar sent letters to Dr. Dhillon's patients making it sound like he dropped them instead of MedStar dropping him.
Rev. Annie Chambers, a patient of Dr. Dhillon said, "Patients are confused, angry and upset. They are crying in the office when they hear the news. Our basic rights as patients are being violated and access to our doctor is being taken away. He has been my doctor for 15 years and I don't want to leave him. We are not going to be silent about this."
Ian Schlackman, another patient said, "The actions of MedStar exemplify the extreme profit focus of corporate healthcare. Patients are being used as pawns in MedStar's strategy of putting profits ahead of the needs of patients and the health services needed for communities."
Margaret Flowers, MD, a retired pediatrician who co-founded the Maryland Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign said, "People are demanding that MedStar maintain its community hospitals in a way that provides all essential services to everyone without discrimination. MedStar should not use the community as a profit center to make their executives and investors wealthy. Health care is a human right, not a commodity."