Roy Exum: Can Erlanger Prevent Genocide?

Saturday, July 27, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The Roseland Community Hospital, located on Chicago’s South Side, had losses of $2 million in 2011 and, due to what is believed to be lousy management, has laid off workers and is now turning away patients. If you are already drawing a parallel to our Erlanger Hospital, with $10 million in losses last year due to lousy management, you need to know what happens when a hospital is shuttered tight.

In Chicago the usual suspects – community activists, the workers and the unions – have raised a clamor, noting the 350-bed facility cares for roughly 50,000 people in the immediate vicinity. But, wait, from out of the shadows comes a crowd that’s says the hospital is vital. Members of the Black Disciples street gang know what will happen if Roseland closes.

“It’s bad enough we are out here harming each other,” the gang’s co-founder, Don Dirk Acklin, told NBC News,” but for the hospital to close that can help people that is innocent and being harmed (by stray bullets) – that is genocide!”

Another protester moaned, “If there is nothing here at all, period, then where are they going to go? Just lie in the street and die! We deserve the right to live.”

Well, the whole thing would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Chicago is the murder capital of America. And “gang-bangers” have cost hospitals all across the country a lot of money. In Chattanooga, for instance, Erlanger Hospital has treated about 70 victims of street shootings this year. A typical gunshot wound – in and out the door -- averages about $50,000. Simple math: 70 shootings at $50 grand each equals $3,500,000. (Not many gangs have group insurance.)

The city of Chattanooga, where the senseless shootings occur with regularity, flatly refuses to help fund the region’s Level One trauma center. Hamilton County government, on the other hand, allocates $1.5 million to Erlanger but the medical costs of the county jails alone average roughly $1.2 million a year and prisoners don’t have health insurance, either.

Unlike Chicago’s Roseland, Erlanger is “one foot away from hell but headed in the other direction.” New CEO Kevin Speigel is a dynamo, the board has been boosted with fresh leadership, and the recent raises for nurses and staff are a Godsend. Despite the residual losses resulting from horrible leadership before Speigel was hired, there are sound indicators Erlanger will flourish in given time.

Unlike Roseland, Erlanger still provides quality care and concerted efforts to change the governing body to an operating structure similar to a 501c3 formula will be huge. The state legislature must approve the change – since Chattanooga’s largest hospital is owned by the citizens – but the Hamilton County delegation is committed in helping Erlanger recover.

Speigel, who has now been the CEO for three months, has made huge strides already. He has renewed the confidence of the physicians and brought better working conditions for nurses, techs, and their assistants. A $25 million surgery update is the first of many capital improvements that have been ignored by previous administrations and he is courting a number of high-profile people to fill crucial positions. But his biggest gift is in guiding some quality personnel already in place and the year-end deficit, while bitter to taste, is already being challenged and corrected.

The raises just given to employees – unheard of given the year’s losses – shows a brilliant vision by the Board of Trustees. Not only is the across-the-board increase badly overdue, it confirms a belief by the hospital’s leadership in the hospital’s rank-and-file that was sorely needed. Erlanger has about 4,000 employees that have admittedly been beaten down in the year of persistent failures before Speigel came on board.

Erlanger’s biggest need is money. With local government officials still leery after watching Erlanger crumble under past leadership, they want to see results before considering additional funding but when they are presented evidence of Erlanger’s stunning indigent care – or the 70 shooting victims that have been rushed to the ER since January – they turn a blind eye.

Such attitudes, by both elected officials and Chattanooga’s legendary philanthropists, must be nurtured towards change. Erlanger is the people’s hospital in Chattanooga. The people own it. And rue the day when somebody cries, “If there is nothing here at all, period, then where are (the people) going to go? Just lie in the street and die!”

According to members of the Black Disciples gang in Chicago, that is genocide.

royexum@aol.com


Discrepancies About The Power Uprate At Browns Ferry

Some facts regarding the power uprate at Browns Ferry to share with the Scottsboro Environmental group opposing the uprate:  1.  The reactor does not run at a higher temperature due to the uprate.  There is simply more flow of feedwater, thus more steam.  So the concern about higher temperatures is unwarranted.   2.  The change in the fuel was ... (click for more)

We Lost A Great Broadcaster In Jack Hatcher

This past week we lost another great broadcaster, Jack Wright Hatcher Sr.   I worked with Jack in the 60’s and 70’s.   Jack always would tell you what he thought.   Most of his thoughts were very conservative.   He was a trivia expert.   He could tell you just about any hit record from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.   He also knew who starred in ... (click for more)

Fire Displaces Family Of 3 On Kemp Drive

No injuries were reported in connection with a house fire late Saturday afternoon. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm shortly before  6 p.m.  and responded to 4605 Kemp Drive with five fire companies. Battalion Chief Rick Boatwright said the fire started in the kitchen and then spread up into the attic. The firefighters were able to bring the ... (click for more)

Michael Wilson Back In Bradley County; Due In Court On Monday

Michael Wilson is back in Bradley County, and was escorted into the Correctional Facility around 8:15 p.m. Wilson’s first appearance in court will be on Monday, at 9 a.m. in the Bradley County General Sessions Courtroom at the Judicial Complex at 2290 Blythe Ave. Wilson was arrested last week, after e ndangered Bradley County child Skyla Wilson was found safe in Colorado ... (click for more)

Unbeaten Baylor Volleyball Sweeps Three Region Foes

The Baylor Lady Red Raider volleyball team made a successful trip to Nashville this weekend where they remained unbeaten after 14 matches with wins over three region foes. Friday's match had Baylor sweeping Pope John Paul II by scores of 25-5, 25-10 and 25-11 before sweeping Ensworth and Father Ryan on Saturday.  Scores in the first match were 25-15, 25-12 and 25-5 while ... (click for more)

Mocs Volleyball Win Two Chattanooga Classic Matches Saturday

The Chattanooga Mocs volleyball team captured 3-0 sweeps against Presbyterian College and Mississippi Valley State on Saturday, their third sweep in as many matches as part of the Chattanooga Classic – presented by Hampton Inn & Suites (Downtown Chattanooga) – held in Maclellan Gym. The Mocs won the first two sets by scores of 25-10 and 25-14 before clinching the match ... (click for more)