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



True Revenue Situation

My honorable and respected friend Roy Exum tells us again today, “It has been 12 years since the county fathers have approved a tax increase ... .” I’ll take his word for that, but want some more information. “No tax increase for 12 years” is just the chorus; I want to hear the rest of the song, the specific verses that really tell the tale. The fact is, although Roy’s bare ... (click for more)

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to  news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Judge Walter Williams May Go Back On The Bench As Administrative Hearing Officer

One of the city's most colorful judges may go back on the bench. The City Council on Tuesday is set to vote on the nomination of former City Court Judge Walter Williams as administrative hearing officer - a new city position. The law license of the former judge was transferred to disability inactive status in August of 2015 after he suffered a stroke early in the year.  ... (click for more)

Body Believed To Be That Of McCallie Student Jackson Standefer Recovered In Colorado River

A body believed to be that of a McCallie School student who was swept away in a creek in the Grand Canyon was recovered on Friday. The Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center said it was notified by a commercial river trip that they located a body on the Colorado River at River Mile 152. Park rangers responded and recovered the body, which was transported to the rim ... (click for more)

Morgan, Smith, Parrott Pace Lady Pounders Past Bearettes 6-0

Maybe Central softball coach LeeAnne Shurette won’t nag her Lady Pounders so much in the coming days. Central collected eight hits, including two-run singles by Tatum Morgan and Janara Smith, on Friday to back Brooke Parrott’s three-hitter and the Lady Pounders defeated Bradley Central 6-0 in the East Hamilton tournament at The Summit. “Shurette has been nagging, maybe ... (click for more)

McCallie Earns 3-1 Soccer Win Over Rival Baylor

When his team needed him the most, McCallie senior Drew Viscomi did what he does best. Two minutes after the Blue Tornado allowed an equalizer to rival Baylor in the Division II Mid-East Region soccer match on the Red Raiders’ home field, Viscomi’s strike put his team back on top. Five minutes later, the All-American and school single-season scoring leader ... (click for more)