It has never been the direct care that the general populace has issue with in the war between UPMC and Highmark. Having experienced both health care systems as an employee and a patient, I know the knowledge, dedication and compassion of the medical, nursing and support staff in direct care-giving is a testimony to both systems. Their employees are the systems' greatest ambassadors. They are the reason people choose the system in which they wish to receive care.
This issue is within the corporate structure of UPMC -- its placing limits on regional health care choice. By refusing to contract with Highmark, UPMC corporate is diminishing the ability of its dedicated employees to deliver state-of-the-art health care. Having doctors terminate caring for people with Highmark Community Blue is a prime example of this disregard for the professional and personal relationships in health care that have made this region nationally known.
The region's health care clients will receive quality care. As patients shift where they will receive their care based on the health care insurance product subscribed to by their employers, job opportunities for health care providers will shift as well.
Unfortunately, in the meantime, patients suffer undue stress and those health care professionals who signed a no-compete clause will be unable to practice in the way they desire. For what reason? So that one corporate giant can futilely try to crush another. That's the issue: the futility and the damage to subscriber confidence and the region's reputation while knowledgeable, compassionate and dedicated employees wish to do what they do best, deliver health care. God bless them all.
PATRICIA SCHAEFER, R.N.