To the Editor:
News that all three of Akron’s doctors have resigned has left residents of Akron and the surrounding community in a state of shock. Although very little can be said about the reason for their resignations, we do know this: none of them have other jobs waiting and they do not want to leave Akron. When you have a situation like that, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the problem must be between the doctors and their employer, which is Mercy Medical.
To refresh your memory, here is a little background: Dr. Cindie Wolff began practicing family medicine in Akron in 1991. Her husband, Dr. David Wolff, joined the practice a short time later. As Akron’s medical practice became more and more demanding, the couple decided to sell the business to the corporation that is now called Mercy Medical in 2001.
Dr. Allison Schoenfelder, who married a local man, joined the Akron practice in 2006. PA Bob Watson retired in 2007 and was replaced by PA Paul Nilles. The PA position is not affected by the recent events, at least not as far as I know.
Mercy officials say we shouldn’t worry, that they will find new doctors to replace the three who have resigned. Those of us who have visited various doctors through the years know that all physicians are not created equally. We have very good doctors here – Dr. Cindie received national honors as a top family physician a few years ago – and area residents say they want to keep their present doctors.
So, what to do?
Mercy leases the Akron Clinic building from the the Akron Health Care Inc., which is the legal entity that owns the building. There are three years left on the 20-year lease. Then we have no way of knowing what they might opt to do. Could they decide to close Akron’s clinic and send the patients to their facility in a neighboring town? We know that could happen when there is no local control.
Having a clinic in Akron brings business into the community. Having a clinic in Akron is a priority for area residents. Having a clinic in Akron is a necessity for our senior citizens.
It isn’t just the Mercy clinic that draws people to Akron. Many people travel up from Sioux City and Dakota Dunes to specifically see our very good doctors. If they are no longer practicing in Akron, make no mistake, it WILL affect other businesses too.
Akron has already lost our local car dealership. We don’t need another loss.
If we want our doctors to stay and there is a problem between the doctors and Mercy, the solution is obvious: Mercy needs to pull out so that the clinic can return to local control.
With that in mind, we are preparing to circulate petitions asking Mercy and the the Akron Health Care Inc. to mutually terminate their building lease. Mercy might not be initially receptive to that idea, but if Mercy officials realize how strong the sentiment is in our community to retain our current doctors, we hope they will do the decent thing, the merciful thing, that is best for Akron and the surrounding area.
We want Mercy to make it possible for us to keep the doctors we know and love. These are the people who attend our churches and are involved in our community. They aren’t just an asset to the Akron area’s medical needs; they benefit our community in a myriad of ways through their involvement in community organizations and events. We want to keep it that way.
If you share our sentiments, please sign one of the petitions that will be available, starting this Thursday, April 13, at the following Akron businesses: Chubb’s Country Store, Peoples Bank, Security National Bank (Akron branch only), and Thorson Drug.
For those of you who share our concerns but prefer online convenience or live farther away, a petition will be available on the Internet at www.change.org. Search for the phrase Keep Akron’s Doctors. To help us maintain better track of the number of people signing the petitions, we ask that you only sign one petition one time.
This is not a fleeting cause. We are prepared to stand up for our community. Please join us in sending a strong message to Mercy.
If any of you would like to send letters voicing your concern to Mercy leadership, please direct your letters to:
Dave Smetter, Communications Director
Mercy Medical Center
PO Box 3168
Sioux City, IA 51102
Additional letters to the Hometowner and other newspapers would also be a good idea.
It’s time to speak out.