What's Up, Doc?

Dr. Mary Rimsza leaves a 25-year stint at the county hospital for ASU

Observers say that achievement, lauded by MedPro just days before Rimsza left her CEO post, made her departure all the more puzzling. The change apparently had nothing to do with the federal investigation into possible Medicare fraud at the county hospital. New Times reported in May that a grand jury was looking into alleged billing fraud in which doctors may have charged for work performed by resident medical students. Rimsza and Hillard say they haven't heard anything more about the investigation. And both say nothing improper was done.

Rimsza, who has a 21-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son, says she looks forward to being able to treat patients in her new job, something she couldn't fit in while acting as administrator at MedPro. Rimsza also says she wants to educate students about the importance of taking control of their own health. She believes this is a key time to reach them, when they are responsibile for their own medical needs for the first time. Being your own health-care advocate is a critical ability in these times of limited health-care availability and managed care, Rimsza believes.

Rimsza says she also plans to continue with her myriad other community responsibilities, which include serving as medical director of the Phoenix Job Corps, teaching at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and the University of Arizona College of Medicine, heading a new Citizen's Review Committee for Children's Protective Services and working with Citizens of Arizona to Prevent Gun Violence, a new coalition hoping to prevent accidental shootings involving children.

Carol Kamin, executive director of the Children's Action Alliance, says she knew only "vaguely" about Rimsza's job change. She adds that she has been out of town and hasn't had a chance to speak with her about it. Kamin says Rimsza has been an "invaluable" voice for children. She hopes Rimsza will remain involved in children's issues regardless of "whatever reason she left [her old job] and wherever she landed."

Kamin says Rimsza is a particularly effective advocate for children's health because she speaks with experience about real cases and does it in a way that cuts through the politics. When asked to testify before the Legislature on issues, Kamin says, Rimsza not only agrees to cooperate, but honors her commitment even when hearings are postponed and rescheduled over and over again.

"That's from the gut," Kamin says. "That's from knowing it's the right thing to do."

Contact Laura Laughlin at her online address: llaughlin@newtimes.com

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