Dr. Hayley Miller

Dr. Hayley Miller gives a pep talk to a group of diabetic patients before skiing with them in January at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Patients are wondering why Dr. Miller is no longer employed by St. John’s Medical Center and some say they’re having trouble getting care for their diabetes.

Patients of internal medicine specialist Hayley Miller are wondering: Where’s my doctor?

Karen Connelly, St. John’s Medical Center’s chief communications officer, confirmed that Miller’s employment was terminated last week.

“Dr. Hayley Miller and St. John’s Medical Center voluntarily and mutually chose to terminate her employment this week,” Connelly wrote Thursday. She emphasized the words “voluntarily” and “mutually chose to terminate her contract” because of a confidential agreement with no liability or breach attributable to either party.

Miller said she couldn’t talk to the News&Guide or comment on the story because it’s a “personnel matter that is confidential by law.”

Miller was an internal medicine physician who practiced with St. John’s Physician Practices, St. John’s multispecialty medical group. Miller could continue to practice and see patients in town but doesn’t have her own practice as an employee of the hospital’s medical group.

Connelly said patients scheduled with Dr. Miller are being contacted to ensure a smooth transition to another doctor. Conversations need to happen, she said, to make sure patients are matched with a provider who is a “good fit for what their individual needs and preferences are.”

“We definitely want to make sure there isn’t a gap in care,” Connelly said. “I haven’t been contacted by anyone who can’t get care.”

But that hasn’t been the case for patients like Marian Ruzicka and Lou Centrella.

Ruzicka, a 70-year-old who lives in Victor, Idaho, said she has been “very happy” with Miller’s services.

“She’s been a blessing to have in this valley,” Ruzicka said.

But when she called in late September to get a medication change, a nurse called her back and said she would hear from someone else shortly.

“Then I didn’t hear anything,” Ruzicka said. “I waited a couple weeks.”

On Oct. 5 she sent an email to Miller’s office, complaining about the lack of communication. The next day, she was told Miller was no longer with St. John’s.

“Why did she resign? What’s going on?” Ruzicka asked. “Meanwhile I’ve had nothing but problems.”

Ruzicka turned to Dr. Martha Stearn but was told she is not taking new patients. Next she called Dr. Christine Turner — also not taking new patients. Finally she called Dr. Michael Menolascino and was told that she couldn’t be scheduled until mid-December.

In the meantime Ruzicka is having mixups with her medications because of incorrect paperwork.

“It’s been one thing after another,” Ruzicka said. “It’s a big calamity. I’m a diabetic with high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation. I really can’t screw around with this.”

She hopes a schedule change will allow her to see Menolascino sooner than December.

Lou Centrella, 72, was also a patient of Miller’s. He learned that she wasn’t his doctor any more when he was in “giant pain” due to complications with sciatica and called to get medication.

Sciatica is pain in the lower back or hip that radiates down the body and the back of the leg along the sciatic nerve, the result of a pinched or inflamed nerve. Those with diabetes have an increased risk of sciatica because abnormally high blood sugars can cause damage to peripheral nerves.

“I don’t really know why she’s not there,” he said. “It seems to me that she’s an exceptional doctor, and it’s hard to get good ones.”

Centrella said Miller “never rushed out of an appointment.”

“She spent more time with me than any doctor ever,” he said. “She just knows diabetes inside and out.”

Miller has Type 1 diabetes, something, she has said, that helps her empathize and understand her patients even more.

Centrella is suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the situation.

“It seems to me that medical institutions should value patients above anything else,” Centrella said. “But I guess I’m naive.”

Centrella asked what the Hippocratic Oath was about if politics were involved in patient care.

“I don’t think there’s any place for politics in medicine,” he said. “If there is, then I don’t even think I want to be associated with it. What are they even in business for?”

Centrella said his options are now to see a certified physician assistant, Calvin Schenk, or a new doctor, Tierney Lake. He said he would have to wait until the end of next month to see her.

Miller went to medical school at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She did her residency in internal medicine at the Gundersen Medical Foundation and La Crosse Lutheran Hospital, and did her fellowship in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at University of Utah. Miller obtained her certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine in August 2013.

It remains to be seen if a new doctor, one with expertise in diabetes care, will take Miller’s place.

“There are other physicians within the group that are available,” Connelly said, “and there are plans to hire additional physicians within the group but not based on this particular situation.”

Patient questions can be directed to the internal medicine department at 739-4610.

Contact Kylie Mohr at 732-7079, schools@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGschools.

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(3) comments

Leslie Murgatroyd

We live in CA but Camp Host in Yellowstone National Park during the summer season. Our local endocrinologist referred us to Dr. Miller for care when we are out of state.

I have to say that after being treated by Dr. Miller, we realized that our previous healthcare had been sorely lacking. We were blessed to have found Dr. Miller. I am retired from the healthcare field, most recently working in an ER. Dr. Miller's knowledge of diabetes, her care and her compassion are simply The. Best. We had decided to make her or full time PCP, which means we were willing to travel from CA to WAY to see her. She totally turned things around for my partner, who has Type 2 Diabetes. She totally got the ball rolling in regards to his severe back pain. He has seen numerous Specialists locally, and none of them were able to help him.

We are struggling to find new PCPs. Nobody locally is taking new patients.

I don't know what happened due her to resigning it for administration to terminate her and we probably never will know the truth. I DO know that the situation of her departure could have and should have been handled differently. The lack of professionalism in how this situation was handled is very evident. I'm sure many other patients of Dr. Miller's are feeling stranded and let down, as we are. I hope to find out soon that she is starting to practice medicine again soon, as she is missed.

Mary Friend

Ms, Vik, I really feel for your stranded situation. Maybe Dr. Miller will open a solo practice in the area, and you can still see her. I wish you well.

DENISE VIK

I was a patient of Dr Miller's since Dr Meyers left. She was straight forward & no nonsense. I have CRPS/RSD (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) She was a powerful advocate for me. Taking it upon herself to learn as much as possible about this disorder. She was respectful, caring & knowledgeable, someone I trusted & knew was fighting for me. She had 2 CRPS patients- to say that another Dr can take her place for us is impossible. I am disgusted with the way I found out (My PT person called the office because I had a severe migraine before & during my PT session. Asking to speak with Dr Miller- she said she or I would get a call back) Imagine my surprise suffering with a migraine & the constant nerve pain I deal with on a daily basis, being told shes not there, she resigned. So nonchalantly. To say that I was brokenhearted & confused would be an understatement. I was asked if I had tried caffeine? If I needed something I could go to the ER, they have other DR's that can take care of my needs in the future? None of them will know how or have the compassion that Dr Miller did in dealing with CRPS. This is complicated medical condition...How far away will I need to travel to find someone that specializes in this? In the meantime WHO will handle my medications? WHO will I see that can understand a confused nervous system in this ski valley? It is horrible the way this has been handled & WHO is suffering? Her patients! I believe the same as what was mentioned in the article. If this is politics, everyone involved should be ashamed! We are people with a Dr that really heard what you were going through & helped tailor a plan in dealing with it. It someone did not like her bedside manner they had the option to choose another Dr. I would travel anywhere to have her continue to be my PCP. I am positive that I am not the only 1 of her patients to be shocked by the news & now left hanging in the balance with our health! I have never had a Dr outside of Mayo Clinic that gave you time & never made you feel rushed. That CAN NOT be replaced.It was also amazing to be able to email her & she responded quickly to whatever question or update i may have had. This stinks for all of us[thumbdown][censored]
Sincerely, D Vik

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