Erlanger has been my employer for the past 14 years. We are an organization that saves lives every day. We are 4,000 people who provide care to the poorest and most critically ill patients in our region. Last year we provided $86 million in uncompensated care to the people of our region. As I understand, the State of Tennessee receives a payment from the federal government in the amount of 66 cents for every dollar we've spent on behalf of our uninsured patients. This means that the State received at least $56 million for the care provided to these Erlanger patients. Where do these funds go? They're not being shared with Erlanger.
Why hasn't this money come back to Erlanger? Why haven't our area representatives, including JoAnn Favors, spoken up on Erlanger's behalf? Further, why don't the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County government, who bring most of the local shooting victims to our emergency room, contribute more for the care of these patients? Erlanger contributes more than $2 billion to the local economy. Is the contribution made by Erlanger to this community and region that insignificant to the city and county governments? Are the votes of over 4,000 people insignificant in the upcoming elections?
Erlanger employees, on the whole, work hard to provide exceptional patient care every day. Our patients are among the sickest in the area because they often have not been able to obtain preventive care. Thus, the cost of their care is higher. We do more with less every day. None of the other hospitals in this city can do what we do, every day, and whether or not our patients have insurance. While losing the ability to accrue paid time off isn't my first choice, I will gladly choose this option over laying off our staff.
As Tennessee is the only state in the union to not receive Disproportionate Share Hospital funding, much needed funds are going to other states. This makes me wonder what our representatives and senators in Washington are doing, other than engaging in partisan politics and giving statements to the press. Again, I wonder if the care provided by Erlanger is valued by those who represent us.
The time for sitting by idly and doing nothing is past. There are over 4,000 of us. We are Erlanger proud and we vote. Our elected public servants need to remember this.
Joy Pirtle Jackson