“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

Under the auspices of that sentiment, the Chester County Medical Society formed a Medical Emergency Response Workgroup to conduct a post-Covid evaluation to learn from mistakes and missteps; yet the new board president subsequently refused to allow it to be published under the society’s name, expressing concern about the impact of the report on county stakeholders.

The rift between the workgroup’s co-chairs and the board president demonstrates a continuing political divide and reluctance of critical examination and honest dialogue about failures in the overall handling of Covid.

The Chester County Medical Society was established in 1828 and is thought to be the oldest county medical society in the state. Their mission is to protect and expand healthcare resources in the community. The society’s board members are all volunteers and are not compensated for their time.

When the medical society’s board discussed the formation of the workgroup and the subsequent post-Covid analysis in 2022, the goal was to review and understand the pandemic and the county’s response since there had not been a meaningful analysis. The board agreed on a plan of action to conduct the assessment and then present findings to four groups, in this order: hospital CEOs, the Chester County Health Department, the county commissioners, and the public.  

Medical society president Dr. David Bobman expressed concerns that the report was too focused on blaming local stakeholders and asked for revisions after the initial report was completed. The co-chairs, Dr. Bruce Colley and Dr. Frank Speidel, revised the report eight different times before the meetings with stakeholders started. The presentation of the findings at the first meeting with Paoli Hospital was well-received, according to Dr. Speidel, as was the second meeting with the county health department that resulted in healthy dialogue. 

Something changed after that meeting because Bobman pushed back about the report being published under the society’s name. According to Speidel and emails obtained from him, Bobman believed the society had accomplished its mission to form relationships and alliances with local stakeholders, including the health department. Since that objective was complete, there was no reason to risk damaging the relationships by publishing the report under the society’s name. Subsequently, no other stakeholder meetings were held.

As Alexis de Tocqueville aptly noted in Democracy in America based on his travel to this country in 1831, a primary difference between America and other countries, like France and England, is that Americans readily form associations for some good, as opposed to relying completely on the government (although the same may not be quite as true today). Similar to churches, schools, and hospitals in the 1820’s, the Chester County Medical Society was formed by volunteers to work for the common benefit of all citizens, not for their own praise or glory. 

Members of the workgroup spent a great deal of their own time to conduct the evaluation and finalize the report. Yet, the president now seems more interested in having a seat at the table with county stakeholders than actually addressing issues to ensure the safety of the community. 

The report disputed by President Bobman includes this overview.

“Profound events such as the pandemic deserve a thoughtful, thorough examination.  Finding what was done well and what could have been done better is, we think, the way to improve and prepare for the next disaster. Using organizational and individual surveys, publications, both lay and scientific and input from physicians, the workgroup identified issues and their drivers, and offers recommendations for improved response to the next community adverse event.”

The report details the issues and provides four specific recommendations around the utilization of resources, communications, the recognition of shared concerns, and stakeholders’ meetings. While these recommendations were more pointed and detailed, they are not completely dissimilar from the findings of the county commissioned report

that was not publicly available until a Right To Know request. The medical society was not even aware of the outside commissioned report until earlier this year.

The medical society’s pro bono analysis and report was more thorough than the county’s contracted report that cost over $144,000. It was also conducted by physicians as opposed to a company staffed with employees without medical degrees who never saw patients.

The workgroup co-chairs, Drs. Colley and Speidel, were heavily involved in the design, data collection, and analysis for the report and spoke with me directly. Multiple requests for comment to Dr. David Bobman, President, and Lynn Stiley, Executive Director, were not returned.

Dr. Colley, a local practicing family physician, was previously the board president of the Chester County Medical Society at the time the project was approved and is a current board member. He also serves as the editor of the society’s journal, Chester County Medicine.

When asked about the dispute regarding publication of the review under the society’s name, Dr. Colley said, “it was the medical community that faced the Covid wave most directly. As such our patients brought to us a barrage of wide-ranging questions and concerns. We desperately needed expert guidance to supplement our best clinical judgment. Virtually every frontline physician I have spoken with found little guidance was forthcoming. Obviously and understandably, initially no one in the world had any concrete clinical advice. But with time, even two years into the epidemic when much was known, there were few precise recommendations for clinical interventions and epidemiological practices for the community.”

“To answer this ‘why’ we attempted to identify whatever miscalculations, oversights and errors that evolved out of our response to the Covid epidemic. Our summary report, I think, is a good start to address the ‘why’ for front line physicians and hopefully the wider community. Our survey and compilation of opinions and observations with respect to what was done well and what could have been done better for our Chester County citizens, I believe will lead to a better chance of protecting the health and wellbeing of Chester Countians in the next medical or public health crisis.”

Dr. Colley expressed disappointment that the review would not be published under the guise of the Chester County Medical Society, yet he remains on their board of directors.

Dr. Speidel, a retired emergency medicine physician, resigned from the board as a result of the president’s decision to not publish the report under the society’s name. 

When asked why he resigned as a director, Speidel said, “I resigned to object forcefully to Dr. Bobman’s authoritarian perception of the Medical Society as his possession for political influence, in contrast to the collegial, professional society I was a part of that saw a duty both to its members and the community. The project was undertaken not to find fault and blame, but to understand what was done well and where we could improve. The intent was for our community to be better prepared for the next disaster by learning from this one. Dr. Bobman, on his own as President, without Board input, terminated the project for political considerations.”

I reviewed numerous emails provided to me by Speidel illustrating the many conversations with Bobman and Stiley. Starting in early January and continuing through early April 2024, it appears that Bobman was concerned about releasing the report under the name of the medical society for fear of harming newly formed relationships with the Chester County Health Department and other local stakeholders. When Speidel then suggested canceling meetings with stakeholders, including the health department, Bobman and Stiley objected, concerned that the society would be left with “egg on its face.”

The completed report was intended to be published as a product of the medical society in the Spring edition of its publication. It will now be published in the summer edition only under the names of private physicians, Drs. Colley and Speidel.

While the good news is that the information will become publicly available, it is clear that the Chester County Medical Society is less focused on its mission today than it was almost one hundred years ago.

Beth Ann Rosica resides in West Chester, has a Ph.D. in Education, and has dedicated her career to advocating on behalf of at-risk children and families. She covers education issues for Broad + Liberty. Contact her at barosica@broadandliberty.com.

8 thoughts on “Beth Ann Rosica:  Another Chester County kerfuffle over a post-Covid review”

  1. So many questions: Why was it ok to “do your own research” when buying a car or a house or selecting a college… but during Covid it became a slur? Hey, that part about repeating the past? What vulnerabilities are there in the Chester Co. election mail-in system? If the Chester County Medical Society is so divided on what actually happened, and how to proceed, how do you think career politicians and their wonks are behaving right now? Kim Zapata was serving as deputy director at the Milwaukee Election Commission in October 2022 when she used her work-issued laptop to obtain three military absentee ballots using fake names and Social Security numbers. Kim Zapata then sent the ballots to Republican state Rep. Janel Brandtjen two weeks before the state’s gubernatorial and legislative elections. The subsequent criminal case against Kim Zapata mirrors one against Harry Wait, a Racine man who requested and received absentee ballots in the names of his local legislators and officials. Harry Wait also showed how easy election fraud is, so then the Democrats went after him with two felony and two misdemeanor charges. In both instances Democrats charged these misguided whistleblowers because they dared PROVE, and self-report after the fact, what every reasonable person knows about mail-in ballot systems – they are vulnerable to fraud and after the votes come in it is nearly impossible to unearth. Democrats cannot refute how easy it is to game the mail-in ballot system. No one in Chester Co. cares about these obvious vulnerabilities because the topic is considered a “conspiracy.” Just like Covid, no one wants to admit they were tricked and fooled by other people. People who rely on the defense that they had good intentions. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Anyone that wants to curtail your freedoms in the name of safety is a tyrant.

    1. Harry Wait and Kim Zapata broke the law and the law applies to everyone regardless of their political orientation. If election fraud were a problem why didn’t we see evidence of in the multiple and automatic recounts? Why didn’t the 60 lawsuits that were presented by Trump have any evidence and were rejected by Trump appointed Judges. Why didn’t Cyber Ninjas find any in their ballot recount in Arizona? Why did Trump’s own U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr declare the 2020 election to be the most secure election ever?

      “Anyone that wants to curtail your freedoms in the name of safety is a tyrant.” – So why has Trump stated that if he is elected in 2024 he will be a tyrant on day one. Why would anyone vote for Trump since he is clearly going to curtail American’s freedoms?

      1. Dominion failed to disclose to U.S. Congress that Dominion employee, Andy Huang, formerly with China Telecom, which is owned by the Chinese Communist Party, was given authority and access to reset the servers on U.S. election equipment remotely from Canada. As Judah knows, The FCC issued Orders to Show Cause on April 24, 2020, against China Telecom stating there is “deep concern” as to the vulnerability to the exploitation, influence, and control of the Chinese Communist Party.
        In 2020 only specific cities in swing states such as Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Atlanta, Georgia, and Michigan (Detroit) showed massive mail-in ballots. But these same results were not shown in non-swing states: St. Louis, Missouri, nor Charlotte, North Carolina, nor Memphis, Tennessee.
        Judah agrees that in a random review of nearly 15,000 absentee ballots cast in the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin, the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau found that nearly 7% of the witness certificates were flawed. And just a few days ago a federal judge threw out a lawsuit brought by Democrats that challenged Wisconsin’s witness requirements for absentee voting, a ruling that keeps the law in place with the presidential election six months away. “It may be debatable whether the witness requirement is needed, but it is one reasonable way for the state to try to deter abuses such as fraud and undue influence in a setting where election officials cannot monitor the preparation of a ballot,” U.S. District Court Judge James Peterson wrote. Why are the Democrats trying to push unreasonable mail-in ballot rules?

        1. Thank you so much for putting words in my mouth about what I agree and know. Lets start with Andy Huang, when I did a Google search for him nothing that you claimed turned up. What is commonly known is that Fox News settled a lawsuit against Dominion for the lies that Fox News reported on. It cost Fox News $787 million and they fired Tucker Carlson.

          The Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau is as impartial and sloppy as the Arizona recount by Cyber Ninja’s. However he is the actual summation of the reports findings. “Wisconsin audit finds elections are ‘safe and secure” – AP News

          As for mail in ballots in the various cities you listed, so what. More people voted in swing states during the 2020 election than non swing states. All this shows is why voter turnout is higher in swing states, because they are swing states. America and the world was still gripped by Covid so there were more people voting by mail. No surprise there.

          In the future try providing the actual sources for your conspiracy theories instead of vague statements that are easily debunked.

          1. Judah, Google search?
            Alright, let’s quote the AP News…. AP News, Scott Bauer, Updated 10:03 AM EDT, May 10, 2024 (14th paragraph): “In a random review of nearly 15,000 absentee ballots cast in the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin, the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau found that nearly 7% of the witness certificates were missing at least one component of the witness’ address.”

        2. 7% of the ballots were missing a component….and? What component were they missing and were those problem ballots not processed?

          1. 1. From the 2/3/21 Wisconsin Election Data Report:
            “The data contained in this report represents the labor of tens of thousands of volunteer poll workers and
            officials in every town, village, city, and county in Wisconsin. The figures are exceptional:
            • Nearly 3.3 million Wisconsin residents voted in the General Election – representing more than
            72% of the state’s Voting Age Population of 4,536,417.
            • An entirely new absentee ballot tracking system on MyVote Wisconsin was used more than 1.5
            million times by Wisconsin voters. So… 7% x 1.5mm equals 105,000 [flawed] ballots. The race was decided by 20,682 ballots. So if the 7% of flawed ballots were tossed, Trump wins Wisconsin in 2020.
            2. Judah uses Google Search and thinks misguided whistleblowers that prove how easy voter fraud is should go to jail.
            3. Judah probably thinks all Whistle blowers should go to jail because the people in power know better. It is sad.

  2. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” . No they are just condemned.

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