Dallas Morning News Goes on Another Fishing Trip at Parkland

I’ve written in this space before (and again here) about how the Dallas Morning News covers Parkland and UT Southwestern. Short version: I think the paper and the hospital have gotten to the point where, if they were a husband and wife, it would be best for everyone concerned if they’d go ahead and file for divorce. The paper performs its watchdog role a bit, oh, shall we say, aggressively. The hospital takes a defensive stance. The more (understandably) defensive the hospital becomes, the more aggressive the paper gets. It’s a downward spiral.

Now, apparently, D Magazine is caught in that downward spiral, I presume because of what I’ve written on FrontBurner. On May 5, the DMN filed an open records request with Parkland. You can read the entire thing after the jump. But here’s what they’re asking for: “Any e-mails, notes or memos since Jan. 1, 2010, including the following keywords: Miles Moffeit, Ryan McNeill, Daniel Lathrop, Sue Goetinck, Sue Ambrose, Sue Goetinck Ambrose, Brooks Egerton, Reese Dunklin, The Dallas Morning News, DMN, D Magazine, Bob Mong, Jim Moroney, George Rodrigue, Maud Beelman, Sherry Jacobson, Morning News, The News, Andy Stern, Sunwest Communications, David Margulies, The Margulies Communications Group, Tim Rogers, Wick Allison, Texas Public Information Act, TPIA or open records.”

Andy Stern runs Sunwest Communications, a PR firm under contract with Parkland. Margulies Communications used to do PR for Parkland. All the other names belong to DMN people. Seems pretty clear that the paper has concocted a conspiracy theory that involves D Magazine working with Parkland’s PR firm(s) to defend the hospital.

Well, I can save the paper some work. Andy Stern and I are, in fact, conspiring. We’re conspiring so hard that we’re actually playing golf together this Friday out at the Four Seasons. Stern owns a whole closet full of red pants that he gets to wear every year for the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Me, out of deference to Stern, I wear red shorts to the media tourney every year. That’s why we’re playing Friday. And you know what we’re going to do (besides win the media tourney)? We’re going to talk about Miles Moffeit, Ryan McNeill, Daniel Lathrop, Sue Goetinck, Brooks Egerton, Reese Dunklin, Bob Mong, Jim Moroney, George Rodrigue, Maud Beelman, Sherry Jacobson, and the Dallas Morning News. Then we’re going to talk about the DMN. Then we’re going to talk about the Morning News. And then, simply, the News.

The last topic, you’ll notice, wasn’t covered by their open-records request. Bwwaaa-HA-haahahahhaa! [rubbing hands together conspiratorially]

Update (1:09): Upon close inspection, I see that they have requested info pertaining to “the News.” Curse you and your thoroughness, Ryan McNeill, computer-assisted reporting editor! Fine, though. Stern and I will just have to discuss “the MN.”

THE OPEN RECORDS REQUEST:

From: ”McNeill, Ryan” <[redacted]@dallasnews.com>
To: Nneka Egbuniwe <[redacted]@phhs.org>
Date: Thu, 5 May 2011 15:15:04 -0500
Subject: TPIA Request No. 1.

May 5, 2011

TPIA coordinator

Parkland Health and Hospital System

To whom it may concern:

Under the Texas Public Information Act, we are seeking copies of the following documents:

1) Any e-mails, notes or memos since Jan. 1, 2010, including the following keywords: Miles Moffeit, Ryan McNeill, Daniel Lathrop, Sue Goetinck, Sue Ambrose, Sue Goetinck Ambrose, Brooks Egerton, Reese Dunklin, The Dallas Morning News, DMN, D Magazine, Bob Mong, Jim Moroney, George Rodrigue, Maud Beelman, Sherry Jacobson, Morning News, The News, Andy Stern, Sunwest Communications, David Margulies, The Margulies Communications Group, Tim Rogers, Wick Allison, Texas Public Information Act, TPIA or open records.

We note that the Texas Public Information Act requires government bodies to make a good faith effort to relate a request to information that it holds (Open Records Decision No. 561 at 8 (1990)). So please consider an e-mail that includes only a last name or first name, but is clearly referring to the above people or places, to be responsive.

Please download these e-mails directly from the server and provide them electronically. If a need exists to redact information, please print only that e-mail and provide only that redacted e-mail by paper.

If you have any questions, please call me at 214-977-[redacted] or e-mail me at [redacted]@dallasnews.com.

Sincerely,

Ryan McNeill

Computer-assisted Reporting Editor

The Dallas Morning News

12 comments on “Dallas Morning News Goes on Another Fishing Trip at Parkland

  1. Sounds as if Parkland had help from some of the best and most respected PR firms in the field. Makes you wonder whether they ever took their advice.

  2. You don’t need a fishing expedition, if the Texas State Health Department, the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Joint Commission, the Department of Justice, and the HHS Office of the Inspector General are all concurrently investigating Parkland Hospital and UT Southwestern for patient endangerment, violation of patient rights, Medicare fraud, and now killing several named patients in the newspapers by failing to treat patients for life-threatening medical conditions with licensed and credentialed physicians.

    The latest case, George Cornell, has three of the agencies above now investigating his death in Parkland’s ER (JHACO, CMS, and the Texas State Dept. of Health Services.) Apparently, this is the second case where Parkland failed to even properly examine a patient complaining of chest pains in the ER. The first being Mike Herrera in 2008, who was not even seen in the ER for 17 hours before he died of a heart attack.

    Looks like everyone is fishing at Parkland nowadays, not just the DMN. Something definitely smells fishy there.

  3. Tim,

    Your role as DMN’s doppelganger on subjects like Parkland Hospital is admirable, but your last crusade (see DISD, aka Hextergate) ended unceremoniously.

    Part of the problem was thoust protest too much. You know, writing 500 words when 50 words would suffice, and continuing news cycles for weeks when they would have ended in days. And that made me sad.

    We (and I mean you) are not repeating history, are we?

  4. John, the point is Tim Rogers has been reporting all this time that the DMN has some kind of vendetta against Parkland and UTSW.

    Well, the news that recently came out that virtually every official regulatory board and oversight agency (CMS, HHS OIG, DOJ, JHACO, the Texas Attorney General, the US Attorney General, and the TX state Dept of Health Services) pretty much proves that the DMN was right that all these troubles at Parkland are real with killing and serious injuring patients (apparently more than 760 per year.) This is no vendetta; otherwise, Parkland should be whining that just about everybody has a vendetta against Parkland.

    Therefore, Parkland and UTSW have been lying, all this time, to cover this mess. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the next step by the DMN is to uncover what Parkland knew, and what they were doing to cover it up. The DMN is obviously wants to know who made the decisions to let inexperienced residents and medical students run amuck on the most vulnerable patients in Dallas without any licensed and credentialed medical staff to supervise them.

    This latest CMS report is damning. Medical student writes that patient is unable to wiggles toes, feel no distal pulses in leg, will continue to observe for at least three days post-op. The resident responds, “Agree.” And there’s no licensed and experienced doctor following these zombie like comments, which is noted to be extremely significant to understanding how this patient was about to lose her leg.

    Really, Mr. Rogers. The only person with the vendetta seems to be you after the DMN reported about your little scandal with the DISD pre-K program at Hexter not too far back.

  5. Yeah, why should anyone care about Parkland? They mostly care for the poor & disadvantaged & disenfranchised & who cares about them? Why doesn’t the DMN just cover how fabulous the lives of the rich & famous are? If they want to cover health care, cover the care that people who are wealthy & important enough to get on hospital VIP lists receive. It is depressing to read about people being injured & killed by sub-standard treatment received only because they are poor. Rogers, the sense of self-entitlement betrayed by your behavior as exposed by the DMN is consistent with the amorality betrayed by this screed. I cannot imagine how much you must love yourself. Write a piece on what it is like never to have felt humility.

  6. Looks like somebody is still licking their wounds from the recent DMN investigation on their daughter getting special privileges ahead of more deserving underpriledged kids in the DISD’s pre-K program at Hexter.

    Sour grapes, no doubt.

  7. I don’t even understand what this article is about, Tim.

    Are you claiming that the DMN has nothing on Parkland to base their articles about because of one obscure TPIA request from many you hand-picked to make some kind of obscure point?

    So, you think because of this one isolated request, the DMN is grasping at straws for their entire investigative series, “First, do no harm?”

    I don’t understand from this article how this proves that all these JHACO, CMS, and Texas Dept. of Health Services investigations and violations are therefore just a “fishing expedition” conjured up by the figment of the imagination of the Dallas Morning News.

    As far as I can see by their own documentation obtained by these “fishing expeditions”, Parkland really did kill or seriously injure all the patients that the DMN is claiming they killed or maimed, and all these agencies are indeed citing Parkland for gross negligence.

    Who are you exactly saying has this “vendetta”? The DMN or you?

  8. I think what Tim was trying to point out, perhaps, was that DMN’s original journalistic goal may have been well-intentioned…but to any reasonable person who isn’t vomiting up thinly veiled sanctimony by “sticking it” to the under-funded county hospital, that goal has degenerated into a do-anything-to-win grudge. Although I don’t know what DMN expects to win here. Relevance? I suspect that will backfire. I doubt they are signing up a heck of a lot of new subscribers based on smear articles about Parkland. I also don’t see how this gets them any acclaim in the journalism community, i.e. this isn’t going to help them become the next New York Times. Maybe it does… I’m not in the journalism industry, but I can’t imagine people get awarded with Pulitzers, or whatever other awards they give for this stuff…it’s just too sloppy and transparent. So if the goal is now building one’s name as an investigative journalist…well good luck with that.

    So maybe they are trying to “win” better patient outcomes at Parkland… Noble, indeed, but this is probably giving them too much credit (re: original journalistic goal perverted into opportunism at its worst). I’m also not a doctor, but I can say that it’s pretty easy to pick on the county hospital if one were so inclined (whatever your agenda might be)…especially if happens to be in a county like Dallas. Parkland is not allowed to turn people away — including people with no insurance, and no money, and in many cases, no green card (this isn’t meant as commentary on immigration…). Unlimited demand. Parkland gets money, largely, though tax revenue, donations and Medicaid (tax revenue with a different name). Limited supply. What happens when you have unlimited demand, limited supply and you have to offer your services for, in many cases, basically free? Anyone take economics? Clearly, DMN’s goal isn’t to win better patient outcomes by steering people away from Parkland… demand is only increasing. And I doubt DMN is making any big donations to Parkland — so that kills the supply theory.

    I think Parkland does a pretty good job with the resources at its disposal. I also think it’s committed to improving itself, again, with the same level of limited resources. There are plenty of people and organizations with much better credentials than me who share my opinion. Parkland is huge, it doesn’t take a lot of creativity to find cases of nasty patient outcomes. There are always going to be screw ups. In some cases they’re going to make for great sensationalism. You do the best with what you have…in this case: an endless line of people needing medical treatment, and a shrinking budget. If DMN has a problem with Parkland being a teaching hospital, would it have UT Southwestern remove all of its doctors and residents??? I guess that would provide the makings of some great investigative articles about Parkland’s staffing emergency. Let’s filet the board for this travesty of public medicine!!!! Who do we hire to treat our patients at the county hospital??? The job seems to be more thankless than ever…

  9. @Ayahyascha- I wonder whether your opinions toward parkland are your mere observer conclusions from afar, or whether you’ve actually worked at Parkland and know first hand how things really are. Because if you base all of your conclusions simply on what you read, I am inclined to think of you as biased. After all, if you do not personally work at Parkland or UTSW, what opinion can you really have, having only heard one side of the story? Even if you knew a patient seen in Parkland with a horror story or are a friend of someone who is a patient of Parkland, I guess you could not personally atest to the situation unless you were involved, could you?