Community now has their attention
More than 50 patients of Dr. Matt Hahn drove all the way to McConnellsburg, Pa. on Monday night to show support for the physician who was recently fired by the Tri-State Community Health Center board of directors. The public raised interesting points, to say the least.
A recurring theme was that no reason has been given for Hahn's termination as medical director of the clinic. A letter to patients from Executive Director Leslie Colbrese merely said Hahn won't be seeing patients after July. Speakers pointed out that the firing puts a cloud over Hahn, though there is no reason to think it has anything to do with the health care given by Hahn, who has been named Maryland Family Practitioner of the Year.
The general belief is that Hahn was about to present the board with some sort of grievance on behalf of Tri-State employees at facilities in Hancock, McConnellsburg and Cumberland. When one man raised this issue, board members said they couldn't comment. Until they do, no one will know for sure.
After about an hour, the board cleared the room to continue meeting in private. They said that's how they operate, though this has always seemed like a bad policy to us, since the non-profit health center receives tens of thousands of dollars in federal funds. You'd think openness would be one of the trade-offs for public support and money.
It was also pointed out that the Tri-State board is supposed to be representative of the communities and patients served, though there is no one with a Hancock or Morgan County address.
So far, the board members and executive director have seemed oblivious to the community uproar. At least they got a taste of it on Monday night. A petition with more than 170 names, mostly from Hancock, was presented. Add this to the dozens of letters and emails that have been sent in the past two weeks, and you can see that large numbers of people in our community are affected — and they are angry about the firing.
On Monday night, patients gave moving testimonials of how Dr. Hahn goes out of his way to take a personal interest in them and how he had greatly improved their health care since coming here.
Others told of how he has put down roots in the community in the past eight years – from starting the Health Olympics to encourage exercise and positive habits, to taking part in and singing for charitable events. He is definitely the face of the Tri-State clinic to the community at large.
Only one naysayer showed up. He complained that Hahn hadn't prescribed medications he'd asked about and had allegedly been rude to drug salesmen, among others. His remarks brought disdain from the crowd.
The Tri-State board was asked several times to reconsider the firing. One speaker predicted that if the board held a public hearing in Hancock, the room would be filled. No doubt they saw this was true since so many people had invested time and money to go up to McConnellsburg.
The ball is in Tri-State Community Health Center's court, and the bleachers are full of paying spectators.