Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Saturday, June 05, 2010

Open letter

An open letter to:

James K. Reed, M.D, CEO
Northeast Health, Inc.
2212 Burdette Avenue
Troy, NY 12180

June 5, 2010

Dear Dr. Reed:

If ever there was a malpractice claim against your organization that you should have settled, it is the one that was prompted by the death of Lisa M. Baker.

As it is, your refusal to acknowledge what your own records show will have consequences for years to come.

If you had offered a reasonable settlement I would not have found out that just six months after Lisa’s excruciatingly painful and totally preventable death another patient in Samaritan Hospital died in shockingly similar circumstances.

I would not have learned that as result of this second death, the Department of Health issued a Statement of Deficiencies against you after inexplicably refusing to cite you for the same deficiencies in Lisa’s care.

I would not have been able to report – as I will – that the Department, in an apparent effort to protect you, stated in response to my FOIL request that it has no record of any investigation or disciplinary action relating to the second death.

And I would not have learned that six months before Lisa’s death, you assured the MacKenzie family that your earlier mismanagement of Alec Mackenzie’s diabetes would never happen again. It did, of course, first to Lisa and then again to Alec MacKenzie, killing both of them.

Nor would I have found out that Alec MacKenzie was an internationally known author and highly regarded expert on time management.

Now I am writing a book about the extraordinary series of events that followed Lisa’s death: The politicians who accepted your campaign contributions and refused to assist me, and a local media that for the past decade has willingly suppressed news of virtually every Capital Region medical malpractice lawsuit while receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue from you and other providers.

I will describe how the records of the second death show that almost all the mistakes that led to the first one were repeated before the second one. From the hundreds of documents in my possession I will paint a picture of an organization controlled by people whose callous disregard for the welfare of their patients borders on the criminal; a management whose overriding priority is money and the organization’s public image.

Using hearing transcripts and other documents I will show a judge who made no effort to conceal his bias against a self-represented litigant; who refused to order you to produce highly relevant medical records that clearly were being withheld.

I will describe, again backed up with documentation, how a lawyer with a firm that was already representing your interests contacted me saying he was interested in taking over my case, and then, over a period of several weeks, made a calculated effort to get my lawsuit thrown out of court.

I will present extensive interviews with people who were injured by but survived your negligence; and with family members of others who did not.

I will describe how, adding insult to injury, you received $74,000 for treating Lisa for the horrific injuries you inflicted on her, and then dismissed out of hand a demand that at a minimum, you relinquish the money you received as a result of the damage you caused.

For less than twice what you paid to settle the MacKenzie case – where there was no claim for pain and suffering – you could have settled Lisa’s lawsuit. That would have included reimbursing Medicare in full. If you had, none of this would be happening. Instead, after paying those high malpractice premiums and all that money to the media to keep bad news out of the press, you refused to let your insurance carrier settle a claim where there was documented suffering and obvious liability for a death.

Now at retirement age but necessarily working part time, I will begin work on the book this summer. It will be published both as an e-book and in print, thus creating a near-permanent record of your callous indifference for the lives and safety of the patients in your care.

Very truly yours,

David Baker

cc: Norman E. Dascher; John A. Collins

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