Erlanger's New Chief Operating Officer Says Other Hospitals Turn Patients Away When They Can't Pay

Monday, February 24, 2014

The new chief operating officer at Erlanger Health Systems says other hospitals turn patients away when they can't pay, and they direct them to Erlanger.

Robert Brooks told hospital board finance committee members on Monday night, "A lot of competing hospitals refuse to see patients who have no ability to pay. They tell them to go to Erlanger."

He added, "One of their strategies is - don't take care of people if they can't pay."

Mr. Brooks made the comments as the board members discussed the increasingly costly "corporate social responsibility costs."

They were pegged at $50,105,938 for the fiscal year to date.

Britt Tabor, chief financial officer, said, "A lot of working people no longer have access to company insurance so our indigent costs continue to rise. A lot of them cannot qualify for TennCare."

Kevin Spiegel, Erlanger president, said one of the indigent care costs underwritten by Erlanger was $239,084 for a ecmo or trach. The intensive care extended over more than 96 hours.

Mr. Spiegel said the patient was a young person with pneumonia. He said, "Without this equipment, he would not have made it."

He said the patient lives very near to the hospital.

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