September 14, 2008
Washington Doctor Says Hospital Retaliating for Role in Film
By Matthew Artz
FREMONT -- A Washington Hospital doctor is asking that the hospital board of trustees meet privately with him and other doctors who participated in the film "Life for Sale."
Dr. Ramineni Rao, a vascular and general surgeon at the hospital, said that management has unfairly lumped him with the film's driving force, Dr. Evelyn Li, and has responded unprofessionally to his involvement in the film.
In a statement delivered to the board, Rao wrote, "It does not reflect well on the quality of leadership if every time ... criticism elicits (a) dysfunctional, exaggerated, emotional response with threats, vindictiveness and ... involvement of (the) legal system. ..."
Rao said in the film that he was the victim of a sham peer review. He said he couldn't discuss the specifics of the charge leveled against him because the case is ongoing.
Rao took exception to a hospital statement concerning a rally over staffing concerns, sponsored by the nurses union outside the hospital last month. The hospital stated that the rally actually was "in support of the efforts by Drs. Evelyn Li and Ramineni Rao to undermine the public's confidence in Washington Hospital."
Rao said he didn't know the film would be focused on Washington Hospital when he agreed to be interviewed for it.
"I'm not responsible for how the movie was done," he said.
"I'm only responsible for my comments," Rao added. "I never said anything against the physicians, nurses or the hospital. If the hospital is upset, they have to take issue with the producer of the film, and not transfer that task to the physicians who were interviewed."
Hospital spokesman Chris Brown refused to rescind the comment about Rao, noting that Rao had attended a news conference for the film and that security officers had photographed him talking to protesters at the nurses rally.
Brown said he saw no distinction between Li, who devoted three years and raised more than $1 million to make the film, and Rao, who was interviewed in the film and briefly attended the news conference and nurses rally.
Rao said he also was concerned about a petition circulated by nurses stating they didn't want to work with any of the doctors who participated in the film.
"The campaigning of signatures .".". affects my ability to practice in the hospital," he said.
Washington Hospital board Chairman Mike Wallace opposes Rao's proposal for a closed- door meeting between trustees and doctors from the film.
"The movie was public, and the public has a right to know what is said by the physicians at the hospital and the board," he said.
"I don't care what he care's about," Wallace added, referring to Rao's fear of retaliation. "I don't think the hospital is overreacting."
Originally published by Matthew Artz, The Argus.
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