August 21, 2002
I have been outraged by the personal attacks on Dr. Kenton Bruice in your newspaper and the one-sided coverage of his dilemma. Perhaps some historical perspective will add some objectivity to this situation.
Dr. Bruice came to Aspen four years ago and struck up an arrangement with the midwives to serve as their supervising physician. For those of you who may not know, this means he is accepting full responsibility for the outcome of all the pregnancies in this practice, including those managed and delivered by the midwives.
Dr. Bruice has been on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for four straight years with minimal vacation time. He agreed to this grinding schedule because he was promised that, after three years, he would become the sole owner and medical leader of this practice.
As an aside, I know that during this same time period some of the midwives have taken an annual monthly vacation, leaving Dr. Bruice to cover for them.
After three years, Dr. Bruice began negotiating in good faith with the midwives to set the agreed-upon arrangement in motion. It soon became apparent to him that they had no interest in altering the arrangement as previously agreed upon or would only do so and to his significant financial detriment.
During this I time I have known Dr. Bruice as an occasional patient and neighbor. I can personally attest to his dedication to his patients and to his strong character. I may not know all the facts of this situation, bull I do know the following:
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Dr. Bruice is the fourth doctor in the last six years to attempt to work with the midwives in a mutually satisfactory manner. The three previous doctors left with the same complaints and issues that Dr. Bruice is now facing – that the midwives have no intention of letting a physician run their practice and earning a physician-level income. Do we notice a pattern here?
The other two OB/GYNs in town have no interest in working with the midwives either, from past negative experiences or fear of being taken advantage of.
Dr. Bruice did not desert the midwives, as some have accused him. He had given them warning about his intentions.
He also offered them two alternatives that would have kept them in business: jobs in his practice for which they would be paid a salary, or an arrangement where they would run their own practice and pay him for supervisory services.
The midwives did not find either of these offers appealing and rejected them. That is their decision and their right. But, Dr. Bruice has the same right to decide that what they are offering him is not appealing and he should not be bad-mouthed for protecting his own interests.
I hope everyone in town recognizes that this is a professional dispute that needs to be solved between the parties professionally, not with personal attacks on a man who has been serving his community well for four years and has every intention of doing so in the future.
Highland Park, Ill., and Aspen