Ben Carson was heralded as a superstar during his career at Johns Hopkins Hospital. But few, if any, caregivers think Carson would make a good president, according to a source with close ties to the institution.
“I’ve maintained many relationships with people at every level of the institution, and do not know of a single caregiver who thinks Carson would make a good president,” said a former Hopkins executive who worked at the hospital during Carson’s tenure.
In October, it was reported based on court records that Carson was the target of at least a half-dozen malpractice cases during his career. Some are still pending two years after his departure. Experts were quick to point out that his track record was not outside the norm.
In the highly secretive world of hospital administration, where patients–and the hospital–are shielded by strict federal privacy laws, it’s almost impossible to gauge how Carson and his competence as a surgeon were viewed internally.
Even our source would only go so far. But the former senior communications executive said “virtually nothing” was written about Carson during the last five years of his career there.
“[Senior administrators] wanted us to spotlight the work of other neurosurgeons,” said the executive.
“I think there was also a performance concern about his patient outcomes that kept us from promoting him. I asked one of the senior-most people about this, and she said many patients remained deeply complicated.”
“That said, opening up children’s skulls for a living is inherently risky business,” the executive said.
Still, the executive said he was “mystified as to why this purported surgical superstar was so under-promoted.”
“When I pressed, one senior director explained that Carson’s patients had many difficult outcomes and that Hopkins officials were not so confident that many cases would make either Carson or Hopkins look good.”
It wasn’t always that way.
As an African-American neurosurgeon with an Ivy League pedigree, Carson was an instant superstar when he arrived at the hospital in 1984. He’d graduated from Yale and attended the prestigious University of Michigan medical school.
He served as Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Baltimore hospital from his arrival until he retired in 2013. His accomplishments have been well publicized.
Among them, he successfully separated conjoined Siamese twins and developed a technique for controlling brain seizures. President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008 for his work.
While Carson’s medical career remained under tight wraps, his political aspirations were increasingly becoming known within the hospital. While still a surgeon, he was already putting out presidential feelers, causing a clash with the hospital.
“He publicly shared his beliefs that homosexuality was a sin,” said our source. “Hopkins made public statements that his views did not represent those of the university and soon thereafter he had retired from medicine.”
Whether that was the final straw, or his retirement was a natural inevitability because of his political aspirations, remains unknown.
Of course, no one has done more to raise questions about Carson’s mental stability that the candidate himself. In his latest gaff, he claimed that Joseph built the pyramids as grain silos, even though it’s well documented that they were tombs of the pharaohs.
Carson’s statement that he received a “full scholarship offer” to West Point also proved to be off-base.
In his 1990 autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” Carson told an apocryphal tale about his days as a Yale student. A psychology professor purportedly told classmates that their final exam papers had been destroyed, requiring them to take another, harder test. All but one–Carson–refused to take it.
The professor then revealed that his statements were a ruse to find out the “most honest student.” But no such incident ever took place and the class did not exist, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Carson’s fabrications and off-kilter statements now beg the question: What was his tenure at Johns Hopkins really like? Given the feelings of caregivers, there may be much more to the story.
As a candidate for the highest office in the land, Carson has a duty to make public all of his professional evaluations and any other record about his tenure at the hospital.
Anything less, short of violating patient privacy, would confirm the concerns of his own colleagues: He doesn’t deserve to be president.
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