Prescription for Resignation

Upset over a new pay policy, docs are checking out of St. Louis University Hospital

Those opposed to the new plan say the requirements don't take into consideration the complexity of procedures or their contribution to teaching and patient care. Another physician says the bottom-line focus decreases the value of lecturing and taking time to teach medical residents in a hospital-and-clinic setting.

"Docs here are working more, enjoying it less and now have the possibility of making less too," says one SLU physician. "Friends of mine throw up their hands and say, 'I'm working really hard -- it's a thankless kind of thing -- and now they're talking about cutting my salary.' They say, 'The hell with it -- I'm going to go out to West County and practice and not worry about teaching and research and administration and all this crap.'"

But there is no escape, even for doctors. These refugees from medical academia could be headed to a different, managed-care version of hell, but they appear to be willing to make the leap, fed up with seeing some of their colleagues make more money with seemingly less hassle.

Attempts to get the medical school's side of this squabble were referred to Bob Woodruff, a spokesman for Biondi from the main campus. In a written statement, Woodruff says the compensation plan has been a "collaborative effort" in the works since 1997, designed to "reward productivity."

Whether the plan is the result of a "collaborative effort" or not, there are enough angry docs who want an explanation that Biondi has agreed to meet with them next month. Chances are he won't say anything soothing or surprising. It appears the archbishop was right to oppose the hospital sale, but it appears it's not the indigent getting screwed -- yet. Who'da thunk it that the first collateral damage from the sale would be SLU physicians?

NO CREATIVE IDEA IN THIS CITY GOES UNPUNISHED: Well, at least somebody in City Hall is reading something decent. It didn't take long after Bob Cassilly let loose his stream of consciousness regarding his plans for the abandoned cement plant on Riverview Drive in North St. Louis ("There He Goes Again," RFT, Sept. 13) that City Hall decided to put a stop to it. Before that piece appeared, Cassilly resisted going on the record with his scheme, predicting that the city-code police would arrive shortly after the news broke. Bingo, Bob. It seems that in order to dump hundreds of loads of dirt, you need a permit. But Bob bears no grudge, although he compares the city inspector to Capt. Louis Renault, the Claude Rains character in Casablanca, who was shocked to find gambling going on at Rick's. Maybe Cassilly can take solace from No. 1-with-a-bullet Nelly, who was also dissed by the mayor's office (see "Radar Station," page 72). A prophet, or an artist, just ain't appreciated in his own town.

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