In "Balance sheets that get well soon" (The Corporation, Sept. 4), you seem to give every reason for Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.'s success except one: excellent customer service. Recently, my wife was afflicted with terrible abdominal pain on a Saturday evening. Experience had told us that, if we were to visit our nonprofit local-community hospital, we could expect a wait of at least an hour and probably more. Needing immediate attention, we turned to the emergency room at Columbia Doctor's Hospital. We arrived at 7 p.m. By 7:15 p.m., my wife had been seen by her physician, had her blood drawn, and had been advised that an appendectomy was in order. The anesthesiologist and surgeon were summoned from home, and within 30 minutes she was in the operating-prep area. During the whole process, I was dumbfounded by the courtesy, speed, and efficiency of the staff.
I suppose others may continue to utilize the services of the nonprofits in our community. There, they can enjoy a leisurely wait while the physician's services are consumed by Medicaid patients who use the emergency room for their after-hours clinic to treat runny noses and common colds. As for me and my family, we will vote with our wallet and enjoy the services of the Columbia facility. It may cost us more, but when we purchase a premium product we don't mind paying a premium price.
Bruce W. Holsted
Your article possibly inadvertently portrays the true nature of health-care-industry takeovers. There were eight statements about cutting costs for the company, but no mention of lower costs for the patients.
Vincent F. Guinee, M.D.