Hutcheson Hospital Board, Physicians Urge Counties To Cover Debt; Ties With Erlanger Cut

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Hutcheson Medical Center board on Wednesday night passed a resolution urging Catoosa, Walker and Dade counties to proceed with issuing debt to cover the hospital's obligations.

The resolution also terminated the hospital's ties with Erlanger Health Center, which has been operating the facility and has put over $21 million in its operation.

Dr. John Nelson, the hospital’s chief of staff, read a letter citing accomplishments at the Fort Oglethorpe facility in recent months, but also urging the addressing of the debt problem.

Here are the resolutions that were passed:

Authorized the execution of a textile services arrangement between HMC and Xanitos.

 

Approved recommendations from HMD, Inc for a new clinic to be located in Ringgold, Georgia and for a new staffing and compensation model to be used in the clinics.

 

Approved the report from the Medical Executive Committee.

 

A motion was made that legal counsel be instructed to negotiate language with Erlanger Health Systems to achieve a mutual termination agreement and further move that the Executive Committee be authorized to approve and execute if completed prior to the next regular board meeting.

 

A motion was made that HMC, Inc., HHE, Inc. and the Hospital Authority formally ask Walker, Dade and Catoosa Counties to proceed with issuing Bond Anticipation Notes to provide immediate funding for current operations, debt reduction and working capital prior to the issuance of full bonding and that the BANs be issued without the requirement of a lessee being in place.

 

Dr. Weldon appointed Dr. Nelson to help with the evaluation of the Request for Proposal and asked that Dr. Nelson select physicians representing each specialty to work with the group selected to evaluate the RFP.

 

Mr. Jewell appointed Mr. William Cooke to serve on the Finance Committee.

Here is the letter from Dr. Nelson that was signed by a number of other physicians:

Dr. John Nelson, the hospital’s Chief of Staff:

This open letter, on behalf of the physicians signed below, is to the directors of Hutcheson’s Boards, to the Commissioners of Walker, Dade and Catoosa counties, and to the citizens served by Hutcheson Medical Center:

Over the past 18 months, we have witnessed Hutcheson’s aggressive recovery efforts under the leadership of Roger Forgey and his executive management team.  This administration walked into a failing hospital suffering from alienated physicians and the resulting loss of core medical services.  Mr. Forgey actively reached out to physicians who had previously worked with Hutcheson and in our community for years.  In doing so, this administration along with new and existing physicians have rebuilt the primary service lines needed to operate a vibrant community hospital. This includes:

·         The re-establishment of core medical services, including General Surgery, Cardiology, Pulmonology and Critical Care, Gastroenterology, and Urology;

·         An improved and more efficient Emergency Department staffed by physicians board-certified in Emergency Medicine;

·         A revitalized hospitalist program, led by Dr. Larry Rigsby, a well-known Chattanooga hospitalist and one of the few physicians with a fellowship in hospitalist medicine in our area, together with five well-trained, local physicians dedicated to managing the 24-hour medical care of our inpatients with enhanced primary care communication and subspecialty consultation from admission through discharge;

·         The development of the Hutcheson’s Transitional Care Clinic as an extension of inpatient care through post-discharge to coordinate short-term continuity of care with referral back to their primary care physician (scheduled to open September 9);

·         The expansion of Hutcheson’s outpatient clinic system, including new practices in Cardiology, Pulmonology, Multi-Specialty, and Urgent Care medicine in the last 18 months, with an additional primary care practice scheduled to open in Catoosa County in September;

·         Further support and clinical management of Hutcheson’s modern, accessible  ambulatory Surgery Center, multi-disciplinary Cancer Care, Battlefield Imaging, Laboratory Services, and future outpatient GI suites all conveniently located at  Hutcheson on the Parkway; and

·         The recruitment of Chris Moore, MD as the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer to serve as a liaison for much-needed physician representation on the executive management team.

As a result of this administration’s efforts in direct collaboration with the physicians, Hutcheson patients are experiencing the best clinical operations in years.  We understand the hospital’s financials also are positive for the first time in over seven years and are $10 million improved as compared to last year.

However, these accomplishments have been overshadowed by Hutcheson’s debt issues and the recent uncertainty with the Erlanger partnership. Despite Hutcheson’s operational progress, our community cannot gain confidence in the quality, compassion, and dedication of care provided daily at Hutcheson when all they hear is the chaos surrounding the uncertainty of the hospital’s future.  While County representatives have stated they will sign the bonds once a lease arrangement is formalized, it is our strong belief that Hutcheson simply can’t wait that long.  The hospital needs to discharge its debt service now in order for physicians, hospital staff, and administration to press forward with its aggressive recovery.  This administration has proven it can successfully operate Hutcheson, and dealing with the debt now allows us to continue improving the hospital’s services. At minimum, bonding the debt now puts Hutcheson in a greater negotiating position if and when a new lease partner is identified.

Therefore, we respectfully ask the Counties initiate a bond immediately so that Hutcheson can consolidate its prior debt, therefore assuring the community that this hospital can survive to serve the patients of this community.

 

_____________________________

John F. Nelson, MD

Chief of Staff

Jonathon Allen, MD                        Rick Fromm, MD               Eric Manahan, MD

M. Clark Colvard, MD                     Marvin Mills, MD              Darrell Weldon, MD

Tim Ashburn, MD                             Larry Rigsby, MD              David Adcock, MD

Lori D. Emerson, MD                       James Santoro, MD         Kendrick Mills, MD

Tricia Scheuneman, MD


Man Arrested After Attacking Woman Who Gave Him A Ride

A Chattanooga man was arrested after police said he hitchhiked a ride with a woman then started attacking her. According to police, the woman was leaving a party in East Chattanooga on Aug. 1, when Shungthun Martez "Smurf" Fugh, 29, asked her for a ride. The woman told police they were near an alley on East 18th Street when the man started going through her belongings inside ... (click for more)

Crime Stoppers: Murder Of Ladarius Daniel On July 5, 2013

Crime Stoppers and the Chattanooga Police Department are seeking information regarding the homicide of Ladarius Daniel which occurred on July 5, 2013 at 1622 Dodds Ave.   Mr. Daniel was shot by an unknown suspect who fired into a crowd of people at 1622 Dodds Ave. at “Da Building” as a birthday party was letting out. Mr. Daniel was transported by EMS to a local hospital ... (click for more)

Black Creek TIF Decision-Who Guards The Hen House?

Citizens of Chattanooga were invited to give public comment before their own Industrial Development Board Aug. 15. They arrived to find foxes guarding their hen house.  Many thought the meeting was their opportunity to seek redress in the ill-conceived Black Creek Tax Increment Financing plan. However, they learned it was a sham orchestrated by both the past and present ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Chief Delmore: ‘You Blew It!”

Far more than 50,000 people, most police officers and law enforcement authorities, have gone to a website, “LawOfficer.com” to read a scathing letter that first appeared on Sunday. Veteran lawman Ed Delmore, who became the Police Chief in Gulf Shores, Ala., after a brilliant career as the “Top Cop” in St. Louis (which he still loves), has written what was entitled, “An Open Letter ... (click for more)

McCallie's JaVaughn Craig Still Improving At Quarterback

(This is the 14th in a series of preseason stories on new high school football coaches, or veteran coaches at a different school, and top players in the Chattanooga area) JaVaughn Craig was the starting quarterback for McCallie all season a year ago, but it wasn’t originally planned like that. Craig was a wide receiver when he resumed his football career ... (click for more)

Hixson Beats Silverdale For Second Volleyball Win

There's something about that second set that gives the Hixson Lady Wildcats trouble. Hixson lost the second set in Monday's volleyball opener against Sale Creek.  They did the same thing against the Silverdale Seahawks on Tuesday, but just like Monday's match, the Lady Wildcats came out on top, 3-1. Hixson won the first set with ease, 25-11.  Silverdale evened the  ... (click for more)