The Herald of Everett, Washington
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Asking patients to switch docs wrong

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As a cardiologist who has been practicing in Everett for more than 25 years, I am concerned about a recent policy adopted by Providence Physicians Group.
It has been my privilege to serve thousands of patients in Snohomish County through the years. While helping them with their cardiac problems, I have had the pleasure of developing warm, long-lasting relationships with many of them and their families.
So I was surprised to learn that Providence Physicians Group has been contacting my patients and suggesting to them that they sever our long-standing ties and switch to a recently-hired Providence cardiologist. Their stated policy is to re-direct patients who have received specialty care outside of the Providence Physicians Group to specialists employed by Providence. Many of our patients have come to believe that my partners and I have left Everett or no longer practice at Providence hospital. This is untrue. In fact, my cardiology group has two offices in Everett and sees patients at Providence hospital every day.
In an era when patients bemoan the loss of genuine relationships with their physicians and crave continuity in their care, I find this recent policy of Providence puzzling. It's difficult to see what benefit patients will derive from changing their trusted cardiologist -- or other specialist -- to someone who's never seen them before.
While I well know the current pressures on my colleagues at Providence -- financial, governmental and otherwise -- I appeal to them: You're better than this. The doctor-patient relationship still matters. You don't have to violate it.
And to our patients: We at Western Washington Medical Group remain committed to your care. We are in Everett and, if you wish, you really do get to keep your doctor.
Lawrence R. Haft, M.D.

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