Since arriving in Lexington for medical school 16 years ago, I have seen a lot of change at the University of Kentucky. Buildings have come and gone and so have faculty and staff.
What I have seen has made me into an internist and pediatrician but also a member of a team of doctors, nurses and others who work hard for the patients we serve.
As large universities across the country have expanded we, as a nation, have created an inherently complicated system that we charge with educating students while also bringing innovation and discussion that cannot happen in other private and public entities.
Within these systems it is not unique to find aspects that we would question and want to understand more, and a university charged with the development of free thought is a perfect place to shepherd the dialogue.
As a UK faculty member, I am confident that I do not and will not know every detail that happens at my workplace. On the other hand, I can say I know the prevailing thought is within the health colleges and the people who work there. We want to help people. We want to treat patients, educate students and perform academic activities that can help the people of this state enjoy their lives.
I serve on committees and bodies within the university community that foster our missions of education, research and patient care. One of those bodies is the board of directors for the Kentucky Medical Services Foundation.
Much has been made of this organization in the last few months. I know many who work for KMSF. I know them as people who help me do my job — to treat patients and help people. I know that I can call the executive director and any of the staff with a problem, like operationalizing a back-to-school physical, clinic so we can treat any patient who walks in the door, and get an answer.
An answer that will allow me to fulfill my mission. So I am not sure how many secrets they hide from anyone. Any question that I ask, and I ask a lot of them, gets an answer. I have seen audits and details that show the mission of the organization is to retain physicians who fulfill the mission of helping people.
It is not my place to question the content of the recent article that from its opening headline creates a Reaganesque parallel to a secretive empire of evil. All I can say is what was written and its perceptional reality is not the organization I know.
The discussion of transparency and the dialogue of the workings of public institutions will always have inherent merit. There is merit to take a disengaged and misaligned group of workers and help them create an environment that will enable them to maintain excellence in patient care. All of this should play out but it should do so with a contextual significance that has some more basis of fact.
Quotes citing the former director of KMSF should be seen as a perspective significantly removed from present reality. KMSF is not walled off within UK. Any faculty member can contact its leadership and staff and get the same response as high-level executives.
Why? Because KMSF is for the faculty to complete our mission to help the patients we serve.
One thing that should not be lost: The missions of those who work for UK Healthcare and for KMSF align. We want to be a regional and national center of excellence that you can come to for healing, education and academic innovation that make you proud to be Kentuckians.
We volunteer time and service to many things that don’t make the pages or computer screens of news organizations.
While I value the discussion afforded by the article and its goal of increasing transparency, it’s unfortunate that it targets high-level executives but damages collaterally the hard-working people who help me care for sick Kentuckians who trust me with their care.
Dr. L. Curtis Cary, an associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, is on the Kentucky Medical Services Foundation board.
At issue: Aug. 21 Herald-Leader article, “How the secretive arm of UK HealthCare spends $200 million a year”