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Yard signs in Naples protest NCH policy change

Posted: 7:45 PM, Dec 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-04 11:00:16-05

NAPLES, Fla. - A new plan by NCH Healthcare has medical professionals and citizens fighting to allow doctors to continue access to their patients in the Naples hospital.

Ron Garry, M.D. has practiced geriatric medicine in Naples for eighteen years. He said that in that time, he's always been in charge of his patients' care when they're admitted at NCH. But he fears that those days are over - with NCH's new plan to assign staff hospitalists to be his patients' main decision-makers.

"We're concerned that it takes away patient choice," Garry said. "Right now patients can pick who their doctors are. If this new policy stands, they have no choice in who their doctor is."

In some Naples neighborhoods, such as Aqualane Shores, dozens of yard signs protest the policy change, reading "NCH - denying patient/physician choice - nothing to feel good about."

NCH marketing and public relations director Debbie Curry told Fox 4 that while hospitalists will be at the center of their new patient care plan, specialists can "continue to participate in patient care exactly as they have in the past."

"The patient's personal physician is encouraged to see the patient in NCH hospitals, review medical records, remain apprised of changes in the patient's condition and collaborate with hospitalists," Curry wrote in an email to Fox 4.

Garry believes the new patient care plan leaves he and other physicians as little more than advice-givers.

"Our patients want us to be in charge," Garry said. "They know us. The most alarming thing about this is...we're basically going to be a visitor in our own hospital.

Naples city council member Linda Penniman told Fox 4 that she plans to put forth a resolution at Wednesday's regular council meeting, asking NCH to put their new patient care plan on hold.