Tuesday, April 19, 2011

And Another One Bites the Dust: Dr. G. Michael Taft

A few weeks ago a regular reader asked us to investigate the sudden closing of Dr. George Michael Taft's Valley Eye Clinic. It seems that Dr. Taft's two offices and his surgery center all closed without prior notice, leaving only signs directing patients to look for ads in the TimesDaily on how to retrieve their medical records.

Since then, other readers have contacted us concerning Dr. Taft's sudden departure from the area. It seems utilities were disconnected and doors locked without warning for not only patients, but staff and optometrists who worked with the ophthalmologist. Unlike Dr. Christopher Gay whom we discussed yesterday, Dr. Taft has no censures against him and was considered one of the Tennessee Valley's most prominent eye surgeons.

Nevertheless, Dr. Taft has previously made it known he was extremely unhappy with Alabama's Certificate of Need Review Board failing to approve his request for a larger range of surgeries at his Valley Surgery Center on Huntsville Road. Besides procedures involving the eye, Dr. Taft wished to include ear, nose, and throat among the surgeries done at his out patient clinic.

After the state's denial of his proposed additions, Taft let his disappointment be known. From the July 18, 2010, TimesDaily:

Taft told the CON Board that Shoals area hospitals want to drive him out of business and take over his cases. Taft said the result would be higher for-profit hospital rates for patients and less care for indigent patients.

Wherever Dr. Taft has moved, we wish him the best. It's the Shoals' loss.


For those who questioned why the former Good Samaritan Hospice employee was not eligible for COBRA, it seems that in the last few months of the hospice's existence, the owner failed to pay regular insurance premiums despite deducting them from payroll. Several have contacted us concerning various lawsuits that were filed after the hospice closed, but most of these suits are still ongoing with no determination of guilt or damages as yet.

Obviously ECM and RegionalCare have their own point of view concerning such dilemmas. It is after all not their fault that sleazy business practice placed patients in this position. Despite this, we feel that any business promotes good will in the community by attempting to work with those who are honestly trying to repay a debt.