Chief Medical Officer, Bothwell Regional Health Center
   Sedalia, Missouri 65301
Bothwell Announces New Leadership Team Members
Dr. Phil Fracica            Steve Davis CFO              Rose McMullin

Bothwell Names New President & CEO Jimmy Robertson

"To have my concerns categorically dismissed by means of such a sanctimonious-sounding sugarcoating is a grave discourtesy." —the patient
Mercy Gilbert Hospital has found against Philip Fracica's unfortunate letter and sided with me on mine. The hospital has instructed doctors never to engage in this practice
Friends, what's this fuss all about? Well...
Click here to read about Philip Fracica right on this page.

Click here for the Original Complaint.
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November 1, 2015

Dr. Tim Bricker                                         
3555 S. Val Vista Drive
Gilbert, Arizona 85297                Go Back to the Top of the Page

Dear Dr. Bricker:

I am writing to you because the response I received with regard to my very simple complaint clearly shows that Quality Management has no grievance procedure. I realize that you may wish to forward this to one of Dr. Fracica’s superiors who you think might be more appropriately positioned in the chain of command.

I first need to say that my complaint about Dr. Siebel has been resolved to my complete satisfaction by Dr. Siebel’s supervisor. It was a simple concern, the very first such complaint of my life and one easily remedied. I now find myself unhappily making the second complaint of my life—about Dr. Fracica and Quality Management. It is disheartening and unfortunate that I must do so and appear to be a prickly, habitual complainer—but almost every part of what Dr. Fracica has written me is troubling. I sincerely hope that this new letter of complaint can be a service to the hospital and to its patients.

Dr. Fracica writes, “Hospital policy requires that we respond directly to you by certified mail in order to comply with hospital requirements for our grievance process.”

Only there is no “grievance process.” An apologist for the hospital simply “discusses” the matter with “appropriate hospital staff,” decides in favor of the hospital and against the patient, and sends his personal thoughts and casual reflections in a letter in which he singlehandedly dismisses the patient’s concerns outright.

Before retiring in 2010, I worked on the faculty at ASU for 29 years, eight years of which I was in administration, and I know that this does not constitute a grievance procedure (with or without the certified letter). In the letter I was sent by Dr. Fracica, there is not even disclosure of who the “appropriate hospital staff” were or any mention of what they said. There’s no information on relevant hospital policy or anything else—only his offhand viewpoints based on nothing more than obscure conversations with selected coworkers.

Neither is there much of anything that responds to specifics in my letter. Indeed, most often what is written has no relevance to my complaint of any kind—and sadly a great deal of what is written doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Incredibly, Dr. Fracica apparently didn’t even bother to call or write the doctor involved as part of what he calls “the investigation of these concerns.” I explained my very simple and easy-to-address concern quite clearly in my original complaint when I concluded:

“I would like to know that others will not be asked to participate in their anesthesiologist’s religious activities as I was.”  Dr. Fracica’s answer is that evangelical anesthesiologists have his blessing to try to involve sick and injured patients in their religious observances just before surgery. This practice he indicates is ethical because he calls it “respectful offer of prayer.”
To have my concerns categorically dismissed by means of such a sanctimonious-sounding sugarcoating is a grave discourtesy. Dr. Fracica has dismissed my complaint of proselytizing because he contends that the practice should get a default free pass as “respectful offer of prayer.” I would like to ask whether this is official hospital policy. I would like to ask if the hospital is comfortable with this kind of thing being sent to one of its patients in place of clear information on hospital policy. Quality Management has mistakenly thought I wished to receive opinion from a grievance committee-of-one who seems to think his job is to close ranks with anyone and anything religious no matter what he needs to write order to do so.

Dr. Fracica’s letter is quite short indeed, but its content is so rife with disturbing ideas and comments that one must respond to them in a longer letter. Here are some of the things that I find very troubling.

Dr. Fracica writes, “This is a difficult situation in that some patients might actually feel reassured by such action.” On the very face of it, this “some-folks-might-actually-like-it” theory is plainly untenable, to state it kindly. True, the very occasional patient may just plain luck out and find that he shares the same religious affiliation and fervent zeal as his evangelizing anesthesiologist. Therefore, implies Dr. Fracica, it is appropriate for the overly religious to approach all of the rest of the patients with “such action.”

I’m sure many children would be terrified by a thoughtless anesthesiologist who tried to lead them in prayer immediately before surgery as it easily could be taken as some kind of ghastly last rights ritual or as evidence that their condition was near hopeless. But never mind; Mercy Gilbert’s spokesman thinks that some of them “might actually be reassured by such action.”

God alone knows what the “respectful” offerer’s prayer will include—but in my case I’m fairly certain Dr. Siebel was going to be evoking the name of Jesus not knowing or caring even in the slightest whether I was Jewish or not. Dr. Fracica thinks it’s “difficult” to decide whether patients should be asked to run such a risk with a perfect stranger just before their surgery. I only hope a doctor of a different faith never asks one of his loved ones to run that risk—and the concomitant risk run by refusing and thus miffing an obviously very religious individual who will in minutes literally have his loved one’s life in his hands.

Obviously this cannot be described as  “a difficult situation.” That Dr. Fracica presents this no-brainer as a vexing head-scratcher is more than troubling.

Dr. Fracica writes, “Additionally, chaplains are available to offer support when indicated or requested.” True, hospitals employ chaplains, but how is this in any conceivable way relevant to the concern I had? Where in my complaint did I object to chaplains? Chaplains don’t hold the life of the patient in their hands and so the coercive element that I wrote about in my complaint isn’t even an issue.

More importantly, when is it “indicated” that chaplains walk up to perfect strangers in the hospital and try to get them to pray with them? They wouldn’t be long employed if they did. Dr. Fracica, just the same, seemingly holds that since the hospital hires chaplains, its policy should also grant any and all manner of amateur, self-ordained clergy free rein to act in ways that no chaplain would ever dream of doing.

Dr. Fracica writes, “As a Catholic Hospital, while we do not in any way compel patients to participate in any religious activity, we do start each day with a prayer transmitted through the facility by means of overhead loudspeakers.” Because of its extraordinary self-contradiction, one might at first think that this sentence is an attempt at levity or irony on the part of Dr. Fracica.

I am aware that the hospital is Catholic, but how does it conceivably follow that protestant evangelists like Dr. Siebel (or Muslim ones, or Mormon ones...) should be allowed to disturb patients by trying to involve them in their own personal religious activity under the most inappropriate and coercive of situations?

I should rather have thought the very fact that Mercy Gilbert is a Catholic hospital would presuppose that every extra effort would be made to avoid the slightest hint of proselytizing. One would think that this would be a prime concern and the policy on it would be strict and crystal clear.

Dr. Fracica writes, “l am not aware of any hospital policies and procedures, Medical Staff Rules and Regulations, professional standards of conduct which would prohibit or preclude a respectful offer of prayer.” Dr. Fracica argues here that any kind of behavior at all should get hospital approval as long as he’s “not aware of” its being specifically “prohibited or precluded” in the Policies and Procedures Manual. If it stands this test, it is thereby sanctioned—especially, one would think, when Dr. Fracica himself has conveniently given it a de facto pass in the form of the contrived and emetic label “respectful offer of prayer.”

Item: Dr. Fracica doesn’t say he has bothered to review these documents to see if his statement is even true. What Dr. Fracica is “not aware of,” of course, holds no weight in any case.

Dr. Fracica writes, “I apologize for any distress that this has caused you, which was clearly not the intent.” Since Dr. Fracica didn’t even deign to talk to Dr. Siebel, he cannot possibly know his intent “clearly” or otherwise. Even I can’t, and I was there. It is “clearly” apparent, however, whom Dr. Fracica is “apologizing” for. Once again, he grants automatic exculpation that he has absolutely no factual or logical basis to grant.

The moments before surgery are key turning points in people’s lives. No patient, child or adult, should ever be bothered by evangelizing staff at such a time anymore than they should be bothered with the anesthesiologist’s politics. This should be a given. As hard as Dr. Fracica has tried to argue the contrary, there is no defense for such behavior.

In the opinions and observations he has sent me, it is abundantly clear that Dr. Fracica is indifferent to me and simply tone deaf to the concern itself, which is the shared concern of the vast majority of patients who do not wish to be subjected to unwelcome advances of this kind. Accordingly, he gives his certified letter’s seal of approval to pre-surgery evangelizing by means of his made-up phrase “respectful offer of prayer” and his “some-folks-might-actually-like-it,” “We’ve-got-chaplains,” and “I’m-not-aware-of-a-rule-against-it” rationales.

Dr. Fracica might be interested to know that I, too, have spoken to people and received their input into this matter. My examples are anecdotal but I least I can offer that much; Dr. Fracica, as I mentioned before, has not even told me what his workmates have provided him in the way of their counsel. My discussions with others consistently resulted in responses such as: “Creepy.” “Inappropriate.” “Scary.” “Horrible.” “You have got to be kidding me.” Such reactions have come from people from all walks of life—some very religious indeed. None has ever thought such behavior was appropriate. None felt the need to declare knee-jerk solidarity with such selfish and antisocial behavior as Dr. Fracica does so faithfully on behalf of the hospital and the doctor.

Unlike Dr. Fracica, I am willing and able to offer even more than the anecdotal; Dr. Siebel’s supervisor wrote to me the following:

 “He (Dr. Siebel) gave me assurance that this practice will cease immediately.” He doesn’t seem to be blind to this very real problem; he appears to understand that he simply can’t afford to have his doctors behaving in such an unethical and unprofessional way.

Dr. Fracica writes, “Your concerns have been forwarded to both the doctor involved as well as the Anesthesia Department Chairperson.” To what purpose? Was this nameless Chairperson asked for his input? Has the Chairperson been advised that Dr. Fracica has, all on his own, given the doctors under his charge the license to  approach patients with “respectful offers of prayer” just minutes before their surgery? How does the Chairperson feel about this? Incidentally, has Dr. Siebel received the good news that he has prevailed? Sadly, there is no way of knowing any part of what is going on in an informationless “grievance process” bereft of anything but idle remarks.

Item: The Chairperson, I understand, supervises doctors in both Mercy Gilbert and Chandler Regional. Since Dr. Fracica notes that Mercy Gilbert is a Catholic hospital, are the guidelines different in the two hospitals?

Item: My complaint was in the form of a carbon copy of my letter to Dr. Siebel. Why would one “forward” it to him when he has already obviously received it? It sounds as illogical as claiming that one has “reviewed (my) medical records” when they are obviously irrelevant to the complaint. Perhaps these are statements conveniently cut and pasted from previous letters in response to other patients’ cases where they might have been germane.

In summary, no effort has been made by Quality Management apart from assigning an apologist to write a quick brush-off letter and sending it to me in certified mail. Only a little effort would have sufficed. I am left to wonder whether Dr. Fracica, all on his own, decides what hospital policy is. I would like to ask whether the administrators in the hospital think the “grievance process” I have described meets the standards of a major hospital.

Mostly, however, I would like to ask if turning a blind eye to complaints of proselytizing under Dr. Fracica’s “respectful-offer-of-prayer,” “some-folks-might-actually-like-it,” “we’ve-got-chaplains,” and “I’m-not-aware-of-a-rule-against-it” theories is official hospital policy as Dr. Fracica seems to imply. If not, what is the policy?


Tom Cole

cc: Philip Fracica, Marcia Bolks