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April 10, 2013 / Paul Levy

More SEIU letters to doctors

Thursday, September 27, 2007, 1:49pm

I have discussed below the tactical use of letters from the SEIU to doctors at our hospital. Here is another type of letter. This one was an email sent to the doctor’s business address.

This is clever approach to appeal to doctors’ sense of concern about patients and to try ultimately to create a divide between physicians and hospital administration. Let’s deconstruct this a bit — first on elements of style (which, admittedly, are very well done!) First, the writer gives the impression that she has actually talked with other doctors in the hospital, who recommended that she contact this one. But, none of those doctors’ names are provided. Second, while for privacy reasons I have deleted some personal items relative to the author’s family, she made use of a familial connection to medicine to generate a sense of camaraderie and appearance of some technical knowledge of the field. Finally, there is an element of informality in the closing, i.e., use of first name and “Cheers”, as a way to present a sense of intimacy, along with the offer to hold conversations confidential.

On the substantive side, notice the choice of topic, as though there is something special or unusual about the issue of patient bed delays at this hospital. Every hospital in Boston has delays in patients passing through the Emergency Departments. This has been well documented. Ultimately has to do with how much bed capacity you choose to build on the medical/surgical floors and in the ICUs. Each hospital tries its best to manage bed capacity and avoid the need for expensive new construction. (I wonder if the SEIU has written letters like this to all of the Boston hospitals.)

From: Sara Rothstein
To: Dr **
Subject: Patient Bed Delays @ BIDMC

Dr ** –

A number of physicians across BIDMC have suggested that I talk to you about the hospital’s challenges with patient bed delays.

By way of introduction, I am working with SEIU 1199/United Healthcare Workers East and leading its new physician outreach project in Boston. The outreach project is being done in conjunction with the union’s efforts to organize healthcare workers at hospitals across Boston. . . .

SEIU 1199/United Healthcare Workers East has a strong history of partnership with healthcare providers and we would like to have similar partnerships in Boston, with the hospitals and with the physicians. As such, I am meeting with physicians to better understand the concerns and priorities in their departments. A number of people have expressed frustrations with delays in moving patients from the ED to inpatient units, moving patients between inpatient units and moving patients out of the hospital. Everyone I’ve spoken to has recommended that I speak with you for more information.

Would you have some time to talk more about this? The conversation would absolutely be confidential. I’d be happy to meet with you at the hospital or elsewhere if you prefer.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Sara Rothstein
Physician Relations

p.s. I want to apologize that you didn’t receive a letter we sent to BIDMC physicians last month. The letter to you was just returned to the union for being sent to the wrong address. I am attaching a copy of the letter and related attachments to this email. The letter was sent to physicians to explain our position on Free and Fair union elections. There has been a lot of back and forth on this topic between Paul Levy and the union and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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