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CHI St. Alexius Medical Center, shown here in May, in Bismarck is the oldest hospital in North Dakota.

CHI doctors outside Bismarck share in local doctors’ concerns over declines they say they’ve seen in facility staffing, morale and patient safety and service measures.

A number of medical staff at CHI’s Williston facilities added their voices to those of 13 members of the Bismarck hospital’s governing body for medical staff, which on May 1, wrote a letter detailing frustrations over “chronically overburdened” personnel and detriments to patient care caused by this understaffing.

“This weekend, our medical staff became aware of a letter from the Bismarck Medical Executive Committee at CHI St. Alexius Health, illustrating some of the concerns we have voiced over the past several years. Many of us thought these issues were limited to the Williston location, due to geographic and population issues, but there is some vindication in the acknowledgement of these shared frustrations,” the Williston staffers wrote in a letter to the CHI St. Alexius Health Board, dated May 14.

The Bismarck doctors had called for the resignation of four Fargo-based CHI administrative staff and a relocation of that office to Bismarck after they said previous promises of improvements went unfulfilled.

“We have routinely identified issues with the Fargo Division Administrative Team that contradict the Living Our Mission Measures, including some of those mentioned in the Bismarck letter … We have attempted to address these through traditional channels in the organization with the same exhaustion,” the Williston letter writers echoed. “We also understand the requested changes will not resolve all of the issues that face the region, but the current division leadership has failed and declines to engage in improvement efforts.”

The Williston letter was dated one day before 13 of 17 physicians on the Bismarck-based Medical Executive Committee submitted their resignations from that committee as a result of the perceived inaction.

In response, the CHI St. Alexius Health Board formed a working group to address physician concerns. It emphasized that the committee is still functioning and physicians who resigned from the committee continue to treat patients at CHI St. Alexius Health.

"CHI Fargo Division leadership has already begun meeting with providers today at CHI St. Alexius Health Williston Medical Center and will meet with other providers within the CHI St. Alexius system in the coming weeks," the hospital said in a statement Tuesday.

The Williston letter writers also said: “We will continue to be part of building something better for our patients and community and look forward to the opportunity for meaningful change.”

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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