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




The Truth About Kirkman

Vocational training is a must to improve the standard of living for people of the 28th District and for Chattanooga.  This is a reality that has been understood by the current Hamilton County delegation and championed by Senator Todd Gardenhire for some time now.  Growing-up, my father was a union electrician and his skilled trade provided well for my mother, me, and ... (click for more)

End The Private Prison System - And Response

Odds are, you have never been to prison. Odds are, you do not know anyone in county jail. However, if you are poor and live in Hamilton County, Tennessee, odds change. If you are poor in Hamilton County, your life is different and the cost of your mistakes often include your human dignity and freedom.  Who among us does not have something in our past for which we are ashamed? ... (click for more)

2 Shot In Separate Incidents Early Saturday Morning; 1 Victim Is A Juvenile Girl

Two people were shot early Saturday morning in separate incidents. The first incident was at  3:30 a.m. when the Chattanooga Police Department responded to a person shot on the 1000 block of North Willow Street.  Upon arrival, officers made contact with the victim who was suffering from a gunshot wound.    HCEMS transported the victim to a local hospital ... (click for more)

Apartment Damaged By Fire In Dalton Friday Night

The Dalton Fire Department was dispatched Friday night to a structure fire at the Sierra Place apartment complex at 906 Sierra Place for a structure fire. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to one apartment unit and there were no injuries. The affected unit was heavily damaged, ans there was smoke and water damage to one other neighboring unit.  The call was ... (click for more)

Katie Burrows Sets UTC Women's Basketball Staff

Chattanooga head coach Katie Burrows is putting the finishing touches on her new staff. The faces will remain the same, but the responsibilities will shift.   Assistant coaches Brittany Johnson and Jon Goldberg will remain on the staff and Debbie Black moved from Director of Operations to assistant coach. Former student-athlete Aryanna Gilbert will be the Mocs' student ... (click for more)

CASL: Thursday's High-Point Scorers

CUMBERLAND HIGH-POINT SCORERS: None reported. RIDGESIDE HIGH-POINT SCORERS: 19 – Arianna Bond, Izzy Bauer, Drew Bond, Madeline Bond 17 – Beccan Fitzsimmons, Taj Goodman, Adelaide Bond, Jack Fitzsimmons 16 – Brynne Burkhart 15 – Alex Lowry 14 – Ryan Carpenter, Kathy Zeglen, Owen Eastman 13 – Asa Hedrick 12 – Erynn Whaley, Monica Suttles 11 – Wally ... (click for more)