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PeaceHealth Asks Doctors to Sign Letter

• Topics: Bellingham, Health & Home,
2:59pm —

Chief of Staff Dr. Anna Dowling of PeachHealth St. Joseph Medical Center is circulating a letter today - Thur, Apr 2 - among hospital doctors, asking all of them to sign it. The letter basically confirms that St. Joseph Hospital is doing everything correctly; this is to counter recent news reports to the contrary. In particular, relating to news surrounding the firing of Dr. Ming Lin last week. Lin was told by management to delete facebook posts of his that were critical of the hospital, or resign. He did neither and was fired.

NWCitizen has confirmed that the letter is circulating. A PeaceHealth spokesperson insisted there is no coercion, intimidation, nor implication of being fired if doctors do not sign. PeaceHealth also insists that the idea of the letter originated with Dr. Dowling, that she wrote the letter, and that she is the one asking all doctors to sign it. PeaceHealth corporate, in their words, are only “facilitating” the signing of the letter by doctors. PeaceHealth corporate is in Vancouver, Washington. The person I spoke with in Vancouver is charged specifically with public relations for St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham.

The spokesperson confirmed that the letter is intended to be released to the public, so I asked for a copy of it. They told me I should contact Dr. Dowling directly, although when asked, said they did not have contact information for Dowling. So I asked PeaceHealth to get me a copy of the letter - and was told an effort would be made to get Dr. Dowling’s permission for that. Doctors have until 5 pm today to sign the letter.

It is obvious to me that the PeaceHealth spokesperson has the letter and could forward it to me. Instead, they are insisting they need Dr. Dowling’s permission in Bellingham to do that. I am awaiting the letter, but will not hold this news by waiting for it. They have had over three hours already, plenty of time to email it to me.

This article will be updated when we have new information. Apparently, the letter is being tightly controlled at St Joseph as only doctors are seeing it, other staff are not being made aware of it. This information originally came from a source at the hospital. Once again, a whistle-blower has alerted us.

Why is this news? Because we need the doctors at our one and only hospital to be focused on patients. Further, they should not be feeling bullied into signing a letter they may not agree with, especially if they fear they could be risking their jobs by not signing. Again, Dr. Lin was fired last week in the middle of a pandemic, even while getting high marks on job reviews and evaluations. It is not uncommon for companies to ask employees and contract workers (which is what the doctors at St. Joseph Hospital are) to sign statements that can be held in their file and used against them should they say something critical in the future. This letter may not be intended to ever see the light of public release. Thus we need to learn more. Our health is at risk as PeaceHealth tries to paper over possible critical shortcomings in their operations.

Comments by Readers

Kurt Sperry

Apr 02, 2020

What happens to the employees who don’t perform this coerced ritual of fealty? Should they be polishing their resumés and practicing their swimming skills?


Dianne Foster

Apr 02, 2020

Please,  no conspiracy theories.   I’ve been a cancer patient there for years,  and shouldn’t have lived more thatn 2 years out of stem cell transplant,  but am still alive 3 and a half years later,  thanks to PeaceHealth.

It was PH docs who started the sign-on letter to stop the coal terminal expansion,  eventually accumulating hundreds of signatures  -   I was a provider at that time and remember.

This hospital is way over-capacity for the size of our county,  yet they continue to do amazing work with what they have.   They planned to add more wings back in 2008 (I knew the architect who designed it),  but the the Wall Street meltdown happened,  and the plans were cancelled.   Ironically,  Skagit had too many hospitals,  so they merged,  then un-merged.

When I was in the ER with a life-threatening condition last May,  and again in August.   When I mentioned to the ER nurse that the GMA planned on bringing 39,000 more people to this place,   she said:   “well,  I don’t know where we’ll put them,  because we are full.”    Another cardiac nurse came to our Sehome NA meeting  a year ago and said the same thing:   “we are over-capacity.”

In spite of size limitations,  they put me in a private room both times in the ER,  as I am immunosuppressed;  I told them I don’t mind being put in the custodian’s closet,  as that was all they had,  but fine with me.

So what if we get together a PUD that could build a larger facility with all the equipment it needs,   (but then would we be able to find enough staff? -  another question).   We would need to have a public vote,   so a publicly provided hospital could tax the citizens,   and also bill insurance.   It’s a possibility,  but also a gamble.

My last 2 visits with the PH Cancer center,  all patients were screened in the anteroom by a nurse with N95 respirator mask,  and I also had one.   My husband was sent to sit in the car.   All the staff and docs had masks.  

Dianne Foster,  occasional guest writer and left wing agitator…. 


John Servais

Apr 02, 2020

Dianne, thank you for your reminder that the staff at St Joes are very good people who provide the best care they can to patients.  Our concern is with the administration - the leadership and corporate bean counters - who are short changing the staff with protective gear.  And firing Dr. Lin for his efforts to protect his fellow medical staff workers.  The very people we are supporting

Dr. Lin has been joined and backed up by other medical professionals and medical organizations.  I will assemble some for an article.  Dr Lin was fired - terminated - for speaking out.  Others could also be unless they sign a letter they may not agree with.  There is no conspiracy theory.  The danger has been proven.

The letter being sent around today in the hospital is aimed at countering what Dr Lin has been saying, and the first versions of it targeted him. Later in the day a second version, with less personal criticism of Dr Lin, was circulated.  

The primary concern of my article is the coercion, intimidation or bullying of doctors to sign this letter or regret it later.  While I am told this letter is from Dr Dowling, I think it was really written by the public relations department of PeaceHealth down in Vancouver, Washington.  I am sure Dr Dowling wants to focus on patiend care and leading her doctors to provide the best care possible to covid-19 patients.  But PeaceHealth told me it was her idea and her letter.  In my opinion, they threw her under the bus.


Doug Karlberg

Apr 03, 2020

JOHN, your ground breaking news site, and personal journalistic efforts continue to provide an invaluable service to our community, and a rare source for the truth.


Tim Paxton

Apr 03, 2020

I have to agree with Doug Karlberg.  The only real journalism being done in this County is from John and the very talented NWcitizen writers.  Thanks!


Abe Jacobson

Apr 03, 2020

Thank you for this informative and timely report. I am saddened to see such a fine group of professionals (out community’s doctors) being used as pawns in the corporate PR offensive. i share Diane Foster’s great respect for the skill and commitment of the doctors, nurses, technicians, and -yes- housekeepers who work at St. Joe’s and Peace Health’s other facilities. But because of that respect I feel for them, it is doubly important that they be able to do their job without undue interference from corporate suits.


Dianne Foster

Apr 03, 2020

You may all be interested in this Seattle Times article from yesterday.    The agency that hires the PH ER docs is called “TeamHealth”,  and is owned by a giant global hedge fund called Blackstone. (it was bought by them in 2013).      They are headquarted in London,  as I researched them when they bought up land around Bellingham to build so-called “student housing” over on Lincoln St. (North by Northwest).    Since they (TeamHealth)  are for-profit,  and that is illegal in this state,  they are being investigated by AG Bob Ferguson for possible prosecution     This giant corporation is the tail that is wagging the dog,  as PH is a small regional chain started by some radical feminist nuns back in the late 1800’s.

My old co-workers at PH were also administrators,  and worked the ER,  but they didn’t work for TeamHealth,  only for PH directly,  and had no problems there.   As usual,  this is much bigger than we realized.  Can anyone name anywhere in the country that has enough PPE?   Cuomo is now threatening to break into warehouses and take it for their hospitals.  

I’ve been to PH clinics in the last month,  and they always had enough PPE and precautions,  but what do I know, I’m only an eyewitness….(?).   (I’m trying to paste the Seattle Times article,  but this site won’t let me.).   You can look it up under the title:   “Firing of Doctor Shows the Failure of Corporate Healthcare.”   Seattle Times 4-2-20.



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