Forgey Says Hutcheson Hospital Has Made Great Strides; Will Persevere Amid Rash Of Press Releases

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hutcheson Hospital president Roger Forgey, in an email to hospital employees, cited a number of accomplishments and return of many physicians to the Fort Oglethorpe hospital.

He urged hospital personnel to persevere during the recent rash of press releases, including the announcement that Hutcheson is seeking a new partner to replace Erlanger Health System.

Mr. Forgey noted that he came to Hutcheson through the Erlanger contract and said "there is no mechanism for me to remain at Hutcheson." But he said he has "made no plans nor set a date to leave Hutcheson."

The email says:

In the last 48 hours there has been all manner of press related first to the breakdown of contract negotiations between Erlanger and Hutcheson and now the decision by the Counties and Boards to start negotiate the termination of the agreement with Erlanger. I know you are left with lots of questions. In fact I have been bombarded with phone calls, emails and texts too. I have refused to comment until I could get this out to you. 

First of all, the Counties have reiterated their intent to support this hospital financially while Hutcheson is seeking other partner opportunities. Of course money is tight but we are managing financials. Sometimes that is frustrating for all of us. However patient care comes first and we will do whatever has to be done to assure we are second to no one in taking care of those who entrust us with their lives. We are not closing the doors tomorrow or next week or the week after. We are
trying our best to move forward despite all this constant noise around us. I assure you the senior management group is focused and fighting for Hutcheson every day.

Perception by the public, by the doctors and by us (if strong enough and out of control) can effectively become fact even when not true. There was a perception that no hospital could survive the loss of Medicare payments for over six months AND still pay down their claims but we did. A perception that we could not come back from losing $2 million per month but we did. A perception we could not get sub-specialist doctors to come back but we did. A perception that we could not get Board certified Emergency Physicians to come here but we did. A perception we could not recruit quality Hospitalists but we did. I could go on.

Hutcheson has survived a good deal more than this long before me. 

Today the perception I am hearing is that Hutcheson could now fail with the loss of the Erlanger partership. Let me clear something up. It is YOU that are responsible for what recovery we have made and it is YOU that continue to see this through. I don't own that, Erlanger doesn't own that, the Boards don't own that and the Counties don't own that.  Don't let this noise make you doubt the good that is done here nor the ability for Hutcheson to survive and thrive. Let our community know that Hutcheson IS their community hospital. Let our doctors know that we are ready to take the best care of their patients. Let them know that Hutcheson is here and is all in. We have done the things necessary to become viable. The last major piece of that puzzle was to bring back the primary care doctors that had stopped referring to us over the years. We are very close to completing that and now the recent press and the actions of the last few days threaten what we have worked for because perception is that powerful. 

But it can be changed because we have done it before. Please don't get lost in this gossip and these press releases.

I am not sure this helps or hurts. Mostly though I find that we all handle the truth better than rumors even if it doesn't give us what we need. To that end, I would be remiss if I did not answer the questions you have asked most about what will happen to me? I have been with Erlanger 26 years. If the Erlanger contract termination is negotiated there is no mechanism for me to remain at Hutcheson. My employment at Hutcheson is based on that contract.  At this point I have made no plans nor set a date to leave Hutcheson. We will need to let these issues take their own course and I will keep you informed when I know more.  Thank you for all you do. Roger

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