I Support Erlanger - And Response

Monday, July 22, 2019

I write this opinion today under my own free will, without any suggestion or prodding from the management of Erlanger Health System.  As a medical doctor employed by Erlanger, I am on the front lines taking care of people.  Erlanger is an excellent health system and an excellent place to receive care.   It is easy to sit back at a distance and decree how things should run.  It is a different matter entirely to be in the trenches taking care of the sick.

Erlanger doesn’t go out and look for trouble.  Trouble finds us.  The reason that our ER and our hospital are full is that other hospitals can’t or won’t take care of incredibly sick or uninsured patients.  In our community, Erlanger is the facility that supports all of us.  We are not a corporate hospital that sends profits out of Chattanooga and into Wall Street.  We are not a private hospital that provides only a small token of charity care.  We are the safety net and we treat everyone.   To quote our iconic Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

The region should rally around Erlanger, not rally against it.  When the hospital is continually overflowing with sick patients, then the best solution is to expand the hospital and increase staffing so that it can continue with its mission of compassionate care.  Last year, our Hamilton County commissioners voted to provide $10 million for expansion of the Humane Society.  This is indeed a noble endeavor for our four legged friends.  Equally important is the need to support our community hospital.  Typically, Erlanger receives about $1.5 million annually from Hamilton County to help offset the over $100 million yearly cost of uninsured patient care.  This is woefully inadequate.  In comparison, Regional Medical Center of Memphis receives around $25 million and Metro-Nashville General Hospital receives around $30 million annually from their county governments.

I am Erlanger.  Our community is Erlanger.  I am proud to work here and provide compassionate care.  I am proud to say that my family receives their care at Erlanger.  Erlanger is best for the health of my loved ones and for the overall health of our community.

Daniel Kueter, MD

* * *

Dr. Kueter has written an excellent opinion letter on the importance of Erlanger to the entire community and the challenges it faces in being the hospital of choice for many and the safety net for all. I agree that the community should rally around Erlanger. 

He makes an excellent point about funding. Why does Hamilton County contribute so much less for uninsured patient care than Shelby and Davidson Counties? 

The underfunding of Erlanger is a reminder of the property taxes--$26 million last year--the city and county are not collecting due to due to PILOT and TIF tax incentives.

Here's hoping that the county will revisit their decision to build expand the Humane Society until they study the advantages of working with the city to see if the McKamey Center can be expanded. Why do we need two animal shelters? Taxpayers in Chattanooga pay city taxes to support McKamey and county taxes to support HES.

Helen Burns Sharp


Roy Exum: It’s Right Vs. Wrong

Marti Rutherford: County Mayor Coppinger Should Be Applauded For His Courage - And Response (2)

Debbi Meyers - A Voice We Need, A Voice We Deserve


A month ago the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, led a delegation of Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, to kneel for a symbolic eight minutes and 40 seconds in Washington’s ... (click for more)

We vote for people for lots of reasons; some reasons are sound and some are rather silly. But when we elect a person, we hope that person will do a good job and will provide security and economic ... (click for more)



Opinion

Roy Exum: It’s Right Vs. Wrong

A month ago the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, led a delegation of Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, to kneel for a symbolic eight minutes and 40 seconds in Washington’s Emancipation Hall in memory of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis in an arrest gone awry on May 25. The kneeling ceremony was revolting. George Floyd was a known thug, ... (click for more)

Marti Rutherford: County Mayor Coppinger Should Be Applauded For His Courage - And Response (2)

We vote for people for lots of reasons; some reasons are sound and some are rather silly. But when we elect a person, we hope that person will do a good job and will provide security and economic growth for our community. We have been fortunate to have elected such a person in County Mayor Jim Coppinger; therefore, with his leadership, he has had to make hard decisions. Some ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Hamilton County Has Record 71 In Hospital With Coronavirus; Tennessee Has 25 More Deaths

The number of coronavirus patients in Chattanooga hospitals has risen to the highest level yet - 71. That includes 37 from Hamilton County. The previous high was 65 on June 10. The number of those in Intensive Care has dropped back down to 17. Hamilton County has had 104 more coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 3,180. Deaths remain at 36. There ... (click for more)

UTC Commencement Ceremonies Are Canceled

UTC officials have canceled commencement ceremonies that had been postponed to August, due to COVID. Officials said, "Back in March when COVID-19 first made its way to Chattanooga, a conclusion was reached to postpone commencement ceremonies until August. We hoped the virus would run its course and that we could safely celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2020 in August. ... (click for more)

Sports

John Shearer: Former Chattanoogan Rick Crawford Was Early Mentor To Lance Armstrong

Nearly 50 years ago, Rick Crawford was a blossoming young athlete at Bright School and at Baylor School in the lower grades before his family moved to the Atlanta area. He later realized he had a gift for endurance sports, and that carried him into a career as a long-distance runner at Georgia and then as one of the nation’s top professional triathletes and cyclists for a ... (click for more)

Highly Ranked Florida Champ Joining Mocs Grapplers

As the unforgettable summer of 2020 rolls on, so does GoMocs.com's look at the incoming recruiting class for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling program. This week's featured newcomer is Noah Castillo, a highly regarded prep talent from the state of Florida. Castillo is a three-time state champion from Lake Highland Prep in Orlando, Fla., where he competed ... (click for more)