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By CHUCK REED
Special to The Advocate

AMITE -- Tangipahoa Parish Council members decided Monday to ask the state attorney general if they have the authority to investigate actions by the administration of North Oaks Medical Center.

Two physicians attended the council meeting to speak against current methods used to approve doctors for hospital privileges at North Oaks Medical Center. One councilman said he would like the procedure investigated.

Councilman Carlo Bruno offered a motion, which passed unanimously, to have council legal adviser Cliff Speed seek an attorney general's opinion to determine the council's authority to investigate hospital procedures.

"If it is not in our authority to investigate, then we can forward it to someone who can, like the district attorney," Bruno said.

Dr. Lynn Rogers of Slidell told the council, "I applied at North Oaks, and I got a call from the administrator and was told my application was not approved and that I should withdraw my application. I felt coerced into withdrawing my application."

Dr. Laura Crafton of Plaquemine said, "Lawyers are advising hospitals to hide behind the quality care act passed by Congress. You have gag orders requested by the hospitals. It's a financial situation -- some doctors do not want competition."

The issue of North Oaks' approval of doctor privileges began when a doctor of obstetrics had his privileges revoked recently when he had local patients expecting to deliver children at the hospital. Several patients of that doctor complained to the Parish Council that revocation was unfair to both them and their trusted physician.

Rogers and Crafton said they attended the meeting after reading of the revocation of privileges in a local newspaper.

Councilman Carlo Notariano asked Rogers if she is willing to move her practice to the Hammond area if extended privileges to treat patients at North Oaks, and pointed out that the hospital is the second-largest employer in Tangipahoa Parish.

"I'm not here for me, I stay busy in my current practice. I'm here for the community," Rogers said.

Bankston and Bruno said they want North Oaks officials to attend a council meeting to respond to public outcry, but have not been successful with their offer.

"In business, competition usually reduces the costs of services, but doctors at the hospital think competition would cut into their bottom line. Say a doctor brings in $1 million to the hospital in a year; they have a lot of influence. They are cash cows for that hospital," Rogers added. "They know how to feed rumors to the administration to keep others out."

---------------------------------

Supporters protest over doctor's termination
By SYLVIA SCHON, Daily Star Staff Writer June 30, 2002

A storm of protest has arisen over the termination of Dr. Bivin von Almen's
baby delivering privileges at North Oaks Medical Center effective Monday.

His supporters say the termination is the result of hospital politics.
Hospital officials say the action was taken after extensive review by
medical staff. The doctor's attorney called the review a "sham" that will be
thoroughly examined in court.

Between 50 and 75 patients and supporters showed up at the North Oaks board
meeting Wednesday to protest the termination, and some say they also plan to
bring their concerns to the Tangipahoa Parish Council, which appoints North
Oaks board members. "We had women due to give birth next week in the hallway
crying," said Dana Fendalson, a von Almen employee and patient. "We have
some very angry people. Some are patients or employees of Dr. von Almen, and
some are former hospital employees who know exactly how the politics of that
hospital works."

Hospital board members voted unanimously to terminate von Almen's
obstetrical privileges in closed session on May 29. The doctor and his
attorney were not at that meeting, and both sides have different answers as
to why.

After nearly 50 people addressed the board Wednesday in protest, Board Vice
Chairman Bobby Zabbia read the following statement: "Thank you for your
comments. It was not a surprise to the Board that Dr. von Almen has patients
who support him and are very satisfied with him as their physician. That was
known at the time the matter came to the Board from the medical staff. The
Board, after reviewing and deliberating the volumes of witness testimony and
documents presented to it, nevertheless has accepted the recommendation of
the medical staff leadership regarding Dr. von Almen."

Hospital attorney John Derenbecker said Friday he was not at liberty to
discuss the reason for the termination, but that the board's decision came
after "layers upon layers" of medical review. "Louisiana law affords Dr. von
Almen complete confidentiality in this matter," hospital spokesperson
Michele Sutton said in a written statement. "We are strictly prohibited by
law from disclosing any information regarding the action taken against Dr.
von Almen.

Dr. von Almen does remain a member of the North Oaks Medical Center Medical
Staff with gynecological privileges." Fendalson, however, said the
termination arose from complaints by a competing OB-GYN physician whose
medical group is involved in a non-related lawsuit against von Almen.

"I believe this is a sham peer review," said Michele Alt Hazelett, von
Almen's attorney. "Unequivocally, absolutely, we have refuted every
allegation by the hospital that Dr. von Almen provided substandard care.
There's no question that Dr. von Almen has provided the appropriate standard
of care to his patients." Hazelett also said that during the review process,
the only medical committee that allowed von Almen legal representation and
his own witnesses found in von Almen's favor.

"We introduced the testimony of two maternal fetal specialists, the other
solo (OB-GYN) practitioner at the hospital and another obstetrician with a
combined 75 years experience, and they flatly refuted the allegations by the
hospital and the company hired by the hospital to review these allegations,"
Hazelett said. "He (von Almen) participated in each step of the process,"

Derenbecker said. When questioned further, he also said von Almen did not
have legal counsel or his own witnesses during the entire process. Hazelett
also complained that hospital official Brian Hannah told her client he could
not attend the May 29 meeting because it would be a closed executive
session.

She said she also asked Derenbecker by phone and by e-mail to attend the
meeting and make a presentation to the board before the vote. According to
Hazelett, the only response was an e-mail from Derenbecker saying the
meeting would be a closed executive session.

"My understanding is that subsequently, a member of the board of
commissioners indicated that they asked if we would be there and were told
that Dr. von Almen and his counsel were invited to be there and they
refused," Hazelett said.

Derenbecker said he did not receive a request from von Almen or his
attorneys to attend the meeting, but that the doctor was notified of the
meeting time and place by certified mail. "I was contacted by one of his
attorneys. All he wanted to know was who would be at that meeting,"
Derenbecker said.

Hazelett said she's not sure North Oaks board members realize the
consequences of their actions. "They are not just terminating his privileges
at North Oaks. They are ruining his career," she said. Federal law requires
that the termination of hospital privileges must be reported to a data bank
and any other hospital that seeks to grant a doctor privileges is required
to check that databank beforehand, according to Hazelett.

Felicity Davis, an Amite resident and patient of von Almen, was among those
standing in the North Oaks hallway during Wednesday's meeting. "I've dealt
with (von Almen), and he's a good guy," Davis said. "The point I have is
there were probably 50 people who spoke on his behalf that night. I don't
feel like the board listened to us. I feel like their decision was made
before the meeting even began. I don't think our comments made any
difference at all. I'm as concerned about that as anything."

Hammond resident Abner "Trey" Neill III said von Almen delivered three of
his four children. "As I told the board of commissioners, he is not just a
physician. He is a trusted family friend," Neill said. "I don't know all of
the allegations they are going by, but I know the man. And I know his
integrity and I have certainly seen him demonstrate his competence and
compassion. If this stands, not only do they lose our baby business, they
lose all our business." Sylvia Schon may be contacted at (985) 748-7553 or
sschon@hammondstar.com.

ŠThe Daily Star 2002
Reader Opinions
Post your opinion and share your thoughts with other readers!
Name: Anonymous
Date: Jul, 05 2002
Maybe it is time for a change. Replace the incompetant Cathey bought and run
board of commissioners with I don't know what but there has to be a better
way. Something has got to change and North Oaks can maybe (just maybe) start
to rebuild the trust it once had many years ago.

Its time for a COMPLETE change of administration because that is the only
way things will ever change. Mr. Cathey, Hannah, Sutton and all the others
who call themselves administration need to take a look at themselves and
stop hiding behind community and "we care about the community" and religion.
We see right thru you. I would rather travel to another town then go to
North Oaks and by the way you other physicians out there, this hurts you!
Where are you guys? You could be next and when people leave to go elsewhere
for their care because of the hospital politics and it means YOU lose also.>

Name: Anonymous
Date: Jul, 03 2002
Folks there is a name for what is happening to Dr. von Almen. It is called
PEER REVIEW SHAM. IE DIRTY POLITICS A doctor just won a multimillion dollar
verdict in New Orleans for PEER SHAM REVIEW. North Oaks don't you read the
papers?

Dear Editor:I was one of more than 70 patients of Dr. Bivin von Almen who
attended the North Oaks Board of Commissioners meeting held Wednesday. I
also was one of 47 patients who spoke one on one with the board during a
closed executive session regarding the board's decision to terminate the
privileges of Dr. von Almen.

Every person that spoke did so because of the impact that Dr. von Almen's
care has had on them. No one told us what to say or even told us to be there
on his behalf but we were. As each person entered and left the closed
boardroom the enormous crowd of spectators in the hallway prayed, hugged,
gave words of encouragement, shared stories of the care they had received by
Dr. von Almen and offered their time and support in any way possible.
Patients volunteered to write letters, make phone calls and circulate
petitions, and some even offered to give their time by coming to his office
and stuffing envelopes to mail out to the community.

After allowing us each our five minutes Mr. Bob Zabbia politely read from a
typed, prepared statement that they had heard us all and realized the
support that Dr. von Almen had; however, they were not willing to reverse
their decision. For any of you who are not familiar with our local hospital
politics, North Oaks is a "community hospital." I use that term loosely
because from the experiences I have had with them that is nothing more than
a good public relations slogan. Make no mistake about the facts. North Oaks
is a Quorum-run hospital. Also, make no mistake that Dr. von Almen is not
the first doctor from this area who has been the object of this hospital's
scrutiny. There are others in the same position as Dr. von Almen. He may not
be your OB/GYN, but one of the others may be your family
physician,urologist, pediatrician.

I stood in the hallway and watched patients due to deliver within the next
few weeks cry and express disbelief in what this board had just done to
them. However, keep in mind they are here for us the community. If you would
like answers contact members of the Hospital Board they are: Elenor Dixon
Wells, Guy Recotta Jr., Bob Zabbia, Dr. Larry Fambrough, and Brent Dufreche.

Also, feel free to do as many of us have already done by contacting members
of the Parish Council. Although they have no control over the Board of
Commissioners they are there to listen to you, their parishioners. Also, you
may contact your state representatives.
Although there are several individuals in this area who will be pleased with
this decision and will gain from it, there are hundreds who will suffer
because of it.

Lastly, I thank all who took time from their families to come support Dr.
von Almen. I have been a patient for six years and an employee for four
years and know firsthand the sacrifices some people went through to be
present and support us. Their time and prayers were not wasted because of
this decision; they only gave us the strength to carry this forward and to
exhaust all efforts to make Quorum realize that the people of this parish
are tired of them making our health care decisions for us. We do not have to
let them choose our doctors for us! If you have any questions, please feel
free to contact me at my office at (985) 386-0706. Thank you.


ŠThe Daily Star 2002
Reader Opinions
Name: anonymous
Date: Jul, 02 2002

You stated to contact your state representative. Well, our state
representative is Tank Powell. Talking about politics, North Oaks just gave
his son the opportunity to handle life insurance policies at the hospital.
Why would I call him?


Crowd pushes for investigation of hospital board
By SYLVIA SCHON, Daily Star Staff Writer July 09, 2002

AMITE - An intense, standing-room only crowd of more than 100 people, many
carrying infants, supported Dr. Bivin von Almen Monday night before the
Tangipahoa Parish Council.

In polite but firm language several speakers called for the council to use
its power to investigate the North Oaks Health System board's decision to
terminate von Almen's obstetrical privileges. The council also received a
1,004-signature petition calling for the investigation.

The council took no action but listened to the comments. Several exchanges
occurred between cautious council members and those in the crowd pressing
for action. A standing ovation greeted the suggestion later in the meeting
that the hospital be sold. "All I will say about the process is that it
appears as if Dr. von Almen was not given the opportunity to properly
represent himself. There may be violations of open meeting laws," said
Hammond resident Abner Neill III. "My biggest question is who makes those
decisions? Is it Quorum Healthcare, is it the board of commissioners, or Mr.
James Cathey?"

Quorum Healthcare is the firm that manages the hospital. Cathey is a Quorum
employee and the hospital's chief executive officer. No representatives of
North Oaks attended the meeting.

Jay Austin, an Amite resident, said he and his wife took pains to carefully
select the doctor who would deliver their child and that he knows how
politics work. "We looked as this man's credentials as a physician and not
whose toes he's stepped on," Austin said, adding that the council should
look into the matter to assure "ethical" decision-making by the board.

Von Almen supporters say they are concerned that the board's decision arose
from a peer review by a competing OB/GYN physician whose group is involved
in a legal battle with von Almen over other matters.

Michele Hazlett, von Almen's attorney, has said the board ignored the
findings of the only medical review panel that let von Almen present
witnesses on his behalf. The attorney said those witnesses refuted every
allegation against the doctor and that board found in his favor. Dr. Frank
Hess, the only other OB/GYN sole practitioner in

Hammond, praised von Almen's work. He also said problems exist with the peer
review process at North Oaks. Councilman Bobby Cortez noted that the council
only appoints board members for North Oaks, which is a hospital service
district and an arm of state government. Council attorney Cliff Speed said
public boards make mistakes in public meeting laws, but dismissing board
members would have to be based on more than a mistake.

An investigation would require specific complaints. The council would need
to find just cause to dismiss board members, Cortez said. Neill and others
pressed the council to make a decision.

"Is it your intention to investigate," Neill said. "I guess we can," Cortez
said. "It's not a trick question," Neill said.

Councilman Carlo Bruno suggested that von Almen supporters come up with a
written statement containing specific complaints against the North Oaks
board. Hazlett and Neill said that would be done.

Hazlett also agreed to release some of the currently confidential material
to the council. Councilman Guy Buckley noted that the 7th Ward Hospital, now
known as North Oaks, was formed to serve the people of the parish. "If they
are not going to serve the people of Tangipahoa Parish, we might as well get
out of the hospital business," Buckley said. " ...

This is not the only time something like this has happened." The comment
brought to crowd to its feet with applause and cheers. Currently, von Almen
is still delivering babies at North Oaks under a temporary restraining order
that Hazlett said she would seek to extend until a hearing on von Almen's
suit to be reinstated.

The doctor was present for the council meeting but stayed in the background.
"I feel that my life is in the balance," he said. "But I think I'm doing the
right thing." After the meeting, Councilman Roger Faust said he believe von
Almen's termination of privileges was political.

ŠThe Daily Star 2002
Reader Opinions

Name: Old Man River
Date: Jul, 10 2002
The only amazing aspect of this whole situation is that people are
expressing doubt that his could be a political maneuver. What?! Not in
Tangipahoa Parish!

Name: SONYA HART
Date: Jul, 10 2002
Dr. Von Almen delivered my second child and is still my doctor. He did an
awesome job that day. Now two years later, is still doing so as my gyn. Why
doesnt North Oaks investigate there group, North Oaks
Obstetrics/Gynecology? For every person you find to come against Doc. Von
Almen, you could probably find three to come against those six idiots over
there!!

Number of Opinions: 1 Name: Angela Smith
Date: Jul, 10 2002
I recently wrote a letter to the editor, concerning a failed tubal ligation
that was preformed at North Oaks, not by Dr. von Almen. I am very upset by
the fact that politics can gear our health care system. I have never seen
Dr. von Almen personally, but have many friends who highly recomend him.

One friend , who had a baby stillborn, found out just how loyal Dr. von
Almen was during that tragedy, and continued to see him thru the duration
and birth of her second child. Some of the doctors that North Oaks allows to
pratice in their so beloved hospital should not be allowed to even look at
people, much less treat patients. These are the doctors that overbill, over
test, and elongate hospital stays of patients to up the bill, earning
themselves, and the hospital big bucks.

Let's all pray that the hospital that was once community founded, to serve
us, will return to those ways, dropping the politics, and getting back to
putting the patients first, with THEIR choice of doctors.


North Oaks issues response
July 09, 2002

Hospital spokesperson Michelle Sutton issued the following statement this
morning in response to the comments made at the Tangipahoa Parish Council
meeting Tuesday:

"No one involved in the von Almen peer review process at North Oaks is or
ever was uncaring about Dr. von Almen or his patients. But judgments about
the professional competency of physicians cannot be made based on popularity
(good or bad), petition drives, or public pressure. The extensive peer
review process prevents these important judgments from being made based on
whim, spite or other illegitimate grounds.

"The Board of North Oaks and every hospital across this country has a
fundamental obligation to its patients and community to evaluate and monitor
the competency of the physicians on the medical staff. The Board cannot
shirk that responsibility even to avoid the type of personal and public
attacks now being made against them. Any thinking, objective person
understands and respects that there are two sides to the story, and that
North Oaks is prohibited by law from providing the complete account of Dr.
von Almen's extensive professional issues.

The Hospital also will not engage in a war of words with individuals who
slanderously accuse members of the Board of non-specific wrongdoing. "The
Hospital can say that Dr. von Almen is not a victim. There was no
conspiracy, politics, or vendetta that led to the action against him. It is
unfortunate that his loyal and ardent supporters, and this community, are
opportunistically being led to believe otherwise."

ŠThe Daily Star 2002
Reader Opinions
Name: Dr. Laura Crafton
Date: Jul, 11 2002

The statement issued by Hospital Spokesperson Michelle Sutton is nothing
more than spin to try and make this a moot issue. They expect that things
will cool down and
Dr. von Almen will eventually run out of money for legal defense. No
hospital institutes an attack without having a formula that guarentees that
they will win. They hide behind a federal law that affords them immunity.
The hospital then pretends that they are protecting the physician, when yet
the hospital is the entity that wants to avoid scrutiny.
This approach is called the Sham Peer Review. It is an agenda that, once is
instituted' the conspirators feel they have the law on their side to be
judge, jury, and executioner.

Janet Reno, John Ashcroft, Ted Kennedy, Assistant US Attorney Glen Peterson,
Assistant to the Attorney General George Campagna, Justice
Department-Antitrust Division representative David Jordan, Senator John
Breaux, and Senator Mary Landieu have all been advised of this widespread
abuse of the Healthcare Quality Improvement Act of 1986, and they have all
turned a deaf ear to the matter.

This abuse selects for physicians who see high volumes of patients and
against the "Marcus Welby" types who push for quality over quantity.
Medicine is "Big Business" and there is no longer any place for the home
town type of physician that wants to give personal care. This IS the future
of health care in our country. No one seems to care as thousands of
physicians face similar fates as Dr. von Almen.

Name: Anonymous
Date: Jul, 10 2002
If the decision was not a political decision like you stated, why did a
group of physicans decide, unanimously, to let Dr. von Almen stay at the
hospital. This decision was later overturned by the board that you
represent. To my knowledge, there is only one doctor on this board. So how
can you defend the fact that a group of business people made an educated
medical decision to terminate a doctor, when his peers said that he was good
enough for the position.

Although there is no name attached to this article, I will tell you this, I
am a man, not a woman, so, personally, I will never see Dr. von Almen. It
also sounds like the hospital board is spoon-feeding you information to
provide to the paper (espacially if you are just a spokesperson). If that is
not politics, I do not know what is. Also, I would hope that the residents
of this parish do not buy into the fact that the decision was not political,
come on, we do live in Louisiana don't we.


AMITE - North Oaks Medical Center officials have filed for a gag order in
the lawsuit against them by Hammond physician Dr. Bivin von Almen, whose
baby-delivering privileges were terminated by hospital board members in May.

The hospital's gag order request comes one day after von Almen's attorney
offered to share some records with Tangipahoa Parish Council members in an
effort to get them to investigate the hospital board. The gag order would
prevent von Almen from sharing any records with the council and would also
prevent the doctor or his attorney from discussing the case in public or
with the press, hospital officials said.

As of this morning, 21st Judicial District Judge Jeff Hughes had not signed
the order, but the decision may come later today. Meanwhile, von Almen has
won an extension for his own restraining order against the hospital,
allowing him to continue to deliver babies there at least through July 21.
There will be a hearing on the matter on July 24.

Hospital board members terminated von Almen's obstetrical privileges on May
29 but did not terminate his gynecological privileges. Von Almen was
unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon and this morning.

Name: Mary Kinchen
Date: Jul, 17 2002
North Oaks, What are you afraid of? Why the gag order? Are you worried
something will get out about you? Dr. von Almen's attorney said she would
share some information about the case, not everything! Just enough to call
for a investigation on the hospital board by the Tangipahoa Parish Council.
All the gag order does, is make the public more curious of what you are
trying to hide!

Name: Penny Musacchia
Date: Jul, 14 2002
WE are still behind you, Dr. von Almen! I heard the other night by a lawyer
for the council that not all good doctors make it! Well, what about the
great ones that have THOUSANDS of supporters behind them!........

Name: g. trentecosta
Date: Jul, 13 2002
I believe it's terrible that the hospital would want to silence this doctor.
trhe council should know details about this case and investigate why the
hospital would want to hush this incident up. could this be politics because
a group of doctors want a monoply on delivering babies at the hospital. dr
von almen is competition and they don't want competition. investigate now!

Name: Diane
Date: Jul, 13 2002
Why was he terminated? And why not share his records with the public? Maybe
I just missed something.

Name: Dr. Laura Crafton (not published)
Yes, Diane, you have missed something. It is a federal law entitled The
Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986. This law has allowed hospitals
and their lawyers to become brazened with power. They then hide behind the
immunity afforded them by this law.

As we all know, when people in power can do anything they want and feel
confident they will never be exposed, ABUSES WILL HAPPEN. The facts and the
truth does not matter. The hospital and the doctors or board members that
act as their yes-men are judge, jury, and executioner. Many a good doctor
has been subject to this atrocity. The hospitals clearly favor the type of
physician that will see large numbers of patients, many times at the expense
of quality of care. That is not a major concern, that is what malpractice
insurance is for.

This problem has been drawn to the attention of Janet Reno,John Ashcroft,
the Assistant to the US attorney Glen Peterson, Senators Landrieu, Breaux,
and Ted Kennedy, the Justice Department/Antitrust Division representative
David Jordan and an Assistant to the Attorney General George Campagna. All
have turned a deaf ear to this matter. Does the Billions of dollars that
these hospital chains bring in play a role?

Fairness does not seem to play a role. You be the judge

Council to hear more complaints about North Oaks
By SYLVIA SCHON, Daily Star Staff Writer July 21, 2002
AMITE - Tangipahoa Parish Council members will hear more about North Oaks
Medical Center's dealings with physicians at the council meeting Monday.

Two weeks ago more than 100 people crammed council chambers to protest the
hospital board's termination of Dr. Bivin von Almen's obstetrical
privileges. Several asked the council to investigate the board's action.

Dr. Nancy Rogers, a neurosurgeon and pediatric neurosurgeon based in
Springfield, said she wants to offer the council more information about her
own experience at North Oaks. "They harassed, intimidated and humiliated me
until I withdrew my application for privileges," Rogers said. "The problem
is that patients are suffering."

North Oaks adamantly denies her allegations. Rogers said she has privileges
to practice at Tulane University, Children's Hospital in New Orleans,
Lakeview Hospital in Covington and Lafayette General Hospital. Patients from
this area who want a choice in neurosurgical care must drive long distances
to find it because of the hospital's resistance to her practicing here, she
said.

Rogers said she believes her problems with North Oaks were rooted in another
physician's fear of competition and subsequent campaign against her. She
said she applied for privileges at North Oaks in 1997 or 1998 and "promptly"
got a call from Brian Hannah, North Oaks chief of operations. "He said he
heard some very unkind things about me and really didn't want me at the
hospital and if I proceeded with the application, he would report me to the
National Practitioners Databank.

If you get your application denied, you get banked," Rogers said. Getting
listed in the databank is a career killer for doctors, according to von
Almen supporters. North Oaks spokesperson Michele Sutton said Rogers'
application was forwarded to the hospital in 1998 and there were no threats
or intimidation. "Her application was missing information needed to initiate
the application review/recommendation process by medical staff," Sutton said
in a statement. "Brian Hannah called Dr. Rogers to request the missing
information and clarification on documentation already received.

Hannah adamantly denies speaking to her in a threatening, harassing or
intimidating manner. His requests of her were consistent with the customary
application process. The requested information was never received from Dr.
Rogers."

Council members have not voted to investigate the hospital's handling of
doctors. But some members have suggested that if those concerned produce a
written complaint listing specific grievances, the council could then
consider whether to launch an investigation.

Council members appoint board members for North Oaks, which is a hospital
service district created by state legislation.
Monday in the Parish Council chamber at 206 W. Mulberry St. in Amite. The
meeting is open to the public


Tangipahoa council asks if it can probe medical center
By CHUCK REED Special to The Advocate

AMITE -- Tangipahoa Parish Council members decided Monday to ask the state
attorney general if they have the authority to investigate actions by the
administration of North Oaks Medical Center.

Two physicians attended the council meeting to speak against current methods
used to approve doctors for hospital privileges at North Oaks Medical
Center.

One councilman said he would like the procedure investigated. Councilman
Carlo Bruno offered a motion, which passed unanimously, to have council
legal adviser Cliff Speed seek an attorney general's opinion to determine
the council's authority to investigate
hospital procedures. "If it is not in our authority to investigate, then we
can forward it to someone who can, like the district attorney," Bruno said.

Dr. Lynn Rogers of Slidell told the council, "I applied at North Oaks, and I
got a call from the administrator and was told my application was not
approved and that I should withdraw my application. I felt coerced into
withdrawing my application."

Dr. Laura Crafton of Plaquemine said, "Lawyers are advising hospitals to
hide behind the quality care act passed by Congress. You have gag orders
requested by the hospitals. It's a financial situation -- some doctors do
not want competition."

The issue of North Oaks' approval of doctor privileges began when a doctor
of obstetrics had his privileges revoked recently when he had local patients
expecting to deliver children at the hospital. Several patients of that
doctor complained to the Parish Council that revocation was unfair to both
them and their trusted physician.

Rogers and Crafton said they attended the meeting after reading of the
revocation of privileges in a local newspaper. Councilman Carlo Notariano
asked Rogers if she is willing to move her practice to the Hammond area if
extended privileges to treat patients at North Oaks, and pointed out that
the hospital is the second-largest employer in Tangipahoa Parish. "I'm not
here for me, I stay busy in my current practice. I'm here for the
community," Rogers said.

Bankston and Bruno said they want North Oaks officials to attend a council
meeting to respond to public outcry, but have not been successful with their
offer. "In business, competition usually reduces the costs of services, but
doctors at the hospital think competition would cut into their bottom line.
Say a doctor brings in $1 million to the hospital in a year; they have a lot
of influence. They are cash cows for that hospital," Rogers added. "They
know how to feed rumors to the administration to keep others out."