Erlanger Needs Study - And Response

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why is Erlanger so different from other safety net hospitals in Tennessee?  

Today, the Tennessean reports that the Metro Nashville Hospital Authority, which operates Nashville General Hospital, has presented Davidson County with it's annual request for $32.7 million for hospital operations. The Regional Medical Center in Memphis (the Med) normally receives $50 million annually from Shelby County, $2 million from the city of Memphis, and $5 million from Arkansas and Mississippi.  

Over a year ago, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society along with the Erlanger Medical staff asked for a commission to be formed to study the Hospital Authority Act, compare Erlanger to similar institutions, and make recommendations for any changes. It has been difficult to watch the Hamilton County Commission and the Legislative delegation struggle to come to an agreement on legislation that reduces the Erlanger supplement from $1.5 million to $1 million, while Hamilton County receives $5 million a year in free care for its inmates. 

The new Erlanger CEO looks to be very capable, but without reasonable support, his opportunities for improvements at Erlanger will be limited. A study group of stakeholders, along with state and local leaders, and Mr. Speigel should be able to produce a consensus plan that would form the basis for new legislation to get Erlanger back on a sustainable track. Uncertainty over Medicaid expansion and the full rollout of the Affordable Care Act in 2014 makes quick action on this proposal a priority.

Working together, we can make this happen. Let's get busy. 

Chris Young, MD 

* * * 

I was at Erlanger in 1975 as a student and went on to graduate and work there until 1988. The day I walked onto the campus they were doing demolition on one of the old nursing dorms.  Not long after that they closed Wiehl street in front of the hospital.  The construction and renovations
never stopped. Never. Our department had two major renovations while I worked there. 

Erlanger has always wanted to be the county hospital, the best teaching hospital, and the 
best private hospital in a huge regional area, as well as the regional children's hospital, etc., etc.
Ambition and growth is not a bad idea, in fact it is required in order to attract physicians and patients which equals revenue, but how can all of that be financed and maintained indefinitely? 

Back in the day, Dalton Roberts hammered the board and the activities of the hospital. The news
was always filled with his challenges for the hospital to be more frugal and budget conscious.  I guess the question is this: How long can a hospital truly be all things to all people, never stop  huge construction projects, and maintain viability in the tightening health care crisis? 

One thing that I never really understood back then was that so many indigent patients came from a large region beyond Hamilton county.I saw service patients from Atlanta, Alabama, Georgia, as  well as many other counties in Tennessee. So how is that influx financed? Erlanger constantly complained [and still does] about not enough funds to support all their indigent patients. No, there are not enough dollars to pay for all of that coverage. Did the surrounding regions contribute to the costs?  Did the government [state or federal or both] contribute to support these patients? I could never get an answer from anyone on the subject. 

A close relative of mine worked in the clinics for a long time. They were puzzled by the addresses of many of the clinic  patients also, but no explanations were ever given.  

The only black ink I  vividly remember was when the hospital brought in a CEO that fired 14 or so vice presidents and then moved on to another healthcare facility. The hospital had a $16 [?] million surplus the next budget year. 

I hope that the new CEO can help Erlanger find solutions to the problems. Erlanger is a great hospital and I fear what would happen to our community and region without it. 

Ted Ladd
East Ridge



Mike Carter Fights The Tough Fight

Mike Carter is an outstanding legislator, and deserves re-election to the State house.  Rep. Carter is hard-working and has a proven track record of getting things done to better the lives of those he represents.  I encourage my friends and colleagues to join me in voting for Mike Carter in his re-election bid to represent the 29th District.  Rep. Carter knows ... (click for more)

Give Bullet-Proof Vests To Every Black Youth In The City - And Response (2)

I heard a report that the Chattanooga police were being given better bullet-proof vests, and I had an idea. What if Chattanooga became known for something besides electric buses and fast internet service? What if Chattanooga provided a bullet-proof vest to every young black man and black youth in the city limits?   I can hear the scoffing as I write, but think about it. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Whiskey Company To Construct Large Distillery At Former Site Of Newton Chevrolet

The Chattanooga Whiskey Company has begun construction on a larger production distillery in the former Newton Chevrolet property at the corner of MLK Boulevard and Riverfront Parkway near the Tennessee River. Once fully operational, the Riverfront Parkway facility will be capable of producing upwards of 14 (53-gallon) barrels per day, making it one of the largest craft bourbon ... (click for more)

Beck Upset By Criticism Of Late WWTA Director Cleveland Grimes In WWTA Analysis; Boyd Won't Rewrite 57-Page Report

County Commissioner Greg Beck said it was inappropriate for fellow Commissioner Tim Boyd to include articles critical of the late Cleveland Grimes in a 57-page report on the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority. He said, "Criticizing a dead man - I don't know if that's appropriate. If that's Christianity, let me off the wagon." Saying the report should ... (click for more)

Williams Hired To Lead Restart Of Owls Boys' Basketball

Jay Williams has been hired as Ooltewah’s head boys’ basketball coach, a program rocked by a rape scandal last December that eventually led Hamilton County School officials to disband the varsity team and cancel more than half its schedule. Williams, who has strong ties to Ooltewah High School, previously coached at LaFayette School and Northwest Whitfield high schools in Northwest ... (click for more)

TSSAA Sets Future Division I, Division II Classifications

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Board of Control has released the minutes from Wednesday’s meeting in Hermitage pertaining to football classification period for the 2017-18 and run through 2020-2021 1.  Roll Call 2.  Division I and Division II Classification The Board of Control voted the following for the classification period that ... (click for more)