By Hayley M. Cook
WILLIAMSON – There are usually two sides to every story, and the recent news of Dr. Radha Kudva parting ways with Williamson Appalachian Regional Hospital is no exception.
The only problem is neither side is speaking.
According to numerous parents of patients who have contacted the hospital about Kudva’s future at ARH, they have been told she is “retiring to Florida.” However, many of these same patients say they have talked to Kudva herself, and that she is telling a different story.
The bottom line is many of Kudva’s patients and their parents want Kudva to stay where she is.
“Dr. Kudva has been so much more than my family pediatrician for nearly 20 years. She is a dear friend with whom I completely trust with the lives of my children,” said Glenna Bradford-Belcher. “I will actively support any campaign to protest the actions of Williamson ARH.”
Bradford-Belcher is not the only person confused by Kudva’s departure and the response she says she received from ARH.
Judith Stepp and Natasha Burton have joined together to start a local paper petition that has already garnered 1,000 signatures in four days, and continues to grow. More than 20 copies of the petition have been emailed to others, and a protest is planned for June 25-27, starting at 10 a.m. each day.
“I was told she bought a home in Florida and this was her decision, to retire,” Stepp said. “Tim Hatfield told me and my mother both on separate occasions that she (Kudva) was retiring. Her daughter publicly said on Facebook that this is not a retirement.”
Stepp added, “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. She’s a part of our family, and not only our family, but hundreds of people. She has been a dedicated pediatrician for years and years.”
If Kudva had made the decision to retire, that would be OK, Stepp said. But she emphasized that she has been told that the choice is not Kudva’s, and “she has cried to everyone about this.”
Burton added that when she called ARH, she was unhappy with the answer they gave her regarding Kudva. “I was so upset and so mad. The guy I talked to said she was retiring, and she was selling her house and moving to Florida. She tells people she doesn’t want to retire, though.”
“She’s not saying anything, but she deserves to at least tell her side. She is trying to keep the peace,” Stepp said.
The goal of the petition drive, Stepp said, is to keep Kudva where she has been for more than 30 years – at the very hospital she is leaving.
“I want to try to make ARH realize what a huge asset they are losing. You can go on Facebook and read the stories. These families are refusing to go back to ARH. She is such a big part of her patients’ lives; she is like part of the family.”
Kudva has not commented on the matter, but she did share with the Daily News that her last day will be near the end of August.
Several calls were made to ARH Administrator Tim Hatfield for comment but he could not be reached.
Stepp and Burton also have a Facebook page titled “Team Kudva: Taking a Stand!” set up for people to voice their concerns over this issue. As of Thursday, more than 500 members have joined the page, and more than 100 wall posts have several comments from other Facebook users.