Many of you may be following the recent developments between SLHV and SSM DePaul & SSM St. Joseph’s and SSM St. Joseph’s West hospitals. If not here is the link for reference.
Cardiology group says SSM Health driving away patients, sues hospital system for $50 million. Local Business.

SSM has terminated the entire SLHV group’s CARDIOLOGY privileges at their hospitals as of April 2, 2021. SSM states that this administrative action is not related to the quality of care by SLHV.  They have created an internal group of their own doctors who are the ONLY ones who will be able to see you for your heart, vascular or rhythm problems if seen at an SSM hospital or Emergency Room (ER).
These doctors are NOT from SLHV and do not represent us for managing you in any SSM hospitals. For example, when you come by ambulance to the ER sick or in critical condition at DePaul or either St Joe’s, you or your family may say that the doctors at SLHV are your cardiologists and specifically ask for us in the ER, however, SSM ER will not be honoring your request. A random SSM staff employed or contracted cardiologist, unknown to you will be assigned to take care of you!  Similarly, if you are having surgery and there are cardiac complications, they will not allow your SLHV cardiologists to consult and take care of your heart issues.

As you read this you may wonder why this is being implemented by SSM?
Stripped of Hospital Privileges, St Louis Cardiologists Go to Court. MedPage Today
If we are not consulted for your care in the hospital, we can’t manage your heart, vascular or rhythm problems.  Unknown doctors will have to try to learn about you and may make mistakes. Continuity of care is disrupted — this is the cornerstone of our relationship with you. You will be assigned to one of their doctors for follow-up. This new doctor may be “out of network” hence incurring additional unexpected charges owed by you after hospitalization.
Over the years you may have privately discussed your most intimate matters with SLHV physicians and rely upon us to be there for you and expect it! However, the SSM plan is an underhanded way to sever our relationship with you and they are taking advantage of the situation at a time when you are most vulnerable and scared especially when coming to the ER, then compounding it with the unknown interaction of a new doctor. This will certainly be nerve racking for you and your family and may compound your distress.
By terminating our cardiology privileges, SSM shows no respect for you as our patient, nor do they respect our relationship with you as your cardiologist. Perhaps they don’t want to see you for other unsaid reasons, as they have told us to transfer our patients to other hospitals from their ER—expenses they expect you to pay. Maybe this is what they mean with regards to their vision: “economically, physically and socially marginalized, will experience improved health in mind, body, spirit and environment within the financial limits of the system.”  They may think that by corralling you to forcibly seeing their heart doctors and eliminating your choice to see us “is well within their normal business practices”.

To quote a reader of the STL Post Dispatch
“Surely it’s a money decision, not made to actually give better care to patients. They’ll have SSM staff doctors work those patients instead of doctors in a private practice, or if it’s another private practice doing it then the contract with SSM must be favorable monetarily to the hospital.”—Randy Wright, MO.

SSM shows no compassion for you when you are in a stage of your life when you feel most alone and looking for reassurance from your heart doctor while in the ER or while sick in the hospital with a heart problem.

Additionally, SSM has not disclosed and has not complied with a new federal rule that mandates the publishing of previously confidential prices. We have been more than forthright in disclosing our costs and this impacts you directly as a consumer.  It’s generally well known and accepted that hospital prices are much higher than private practice groups.  These higher prices are paid for by everyone, including patients, insurance companies, employers and government programs like Medicare.

St. Louis health systems, SSM Health and Mercy, flout part of price transparency rule – St. Louis Business Journal (

We know you think this wrong and puts you as a patient in a compromising situation. We are currently fighting for you and our relationship through the legal channels.

We ask that you as our patients, and more importantly as our partners in your healthcare, let your voices be heard.  Take a few minutes and call SSM (at one of the numbers below) on your behalf, as well as ours, and share your opinion regarding their “normal business practices” and its effect on your healthcare and relationship with your heart doctors at SLHV.

We count on your support.


Your Heart Doctors at St. Louis Heart & Vascular


Laura S. Kaiser              President & CEO SSM Health Care Corporation         314.994.7800

Candace Jennings        Regional President SSM Health                                     314.994.7800

Ellis Hawkins                 President SSM DePaul Hospital                                     314.344.7210

Sriram Vissa, MD         Chief Medical Officer DDM DePaul Hospital              314.344.6071

Lisle Wescott                President St. Joseph Hospital –St. Charles                  636.947.5000

& President SSM St. Joseph Lake St. Louis                  636.625.5200

SLHV will continue to see you at any of our medical office locations.