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Friday, February 17, 2006

Prince George's Hospital Center

(Posted 19 Feb 2006)
  • Lawmakers try to ‘sell’ hospital center as a good deal for potential partners.
  • As area hospitals consider whether purchasing Prince George’s County’s Hospital Center is in their financial interest, lawmakers are looking at the county’s offer of an alliance with the ailing medical center as a potential win-win—especially for a teaching hospital.
    [. . .]
    ‘‘It’s probably a business that we as a county are asking for assistance to get out of,” said Maryland Del. Tawanna P. Gaines, vice-chair of the Health and Human Resources Subcommittee on Appropriations.
    [. . .]
    ‘‘A teaching hospital is in our best interest,” said Del. Melony G. Griffith (D-Dist. 25) of Upper Marlboro.
    [. . .]
    ‘‘It’s unclear whether there have been discussions behind the scenes, but I don’t get the impression that there’s really a deal with anybody,” Neimann said.

    ‘‘I think there are a number of institutions for which it would make real market sense, but I’m not sure this is going to bring them out of the woodwork,” he said.

    As an example, Neimann said if the University of Maryland Medical Center signed on, it would increase its statewide profile and be in a stronger lobbying position in the state legislature.

    Neimann said a deal to take over the county’s hospitals would also increase market share for Montgomery County-based Adventist Healthcare or Southern Maryland Hospital in Clinton. With existing medical facilities in the state, adding four additional hospitals to their domain could enhance their images in the region.
    [. . .]
    ‘‘It’s kind of a call for help,” said Del. Doyle Neimann (D-Dist. 47) of Mount Rainier.
    [. . .]
    ‘‘It appears to be a crisis, but I have faith that the state is not going to let this happen to Prince George’s,” said Gaines (D-Dist. 22) of College Park.
    [. . .]
    ‘‘Those are not things you can pull out of the sky and have any one party arbitrarily have the answer to,” Neimann said.

    Most seemed relieved the county may soon wash its hands out of the hospital industry. ‘‘It makes sense to have the best person for the job do the job,” Griffith said.

    Griffith, clinical social worker, said the new medical facility with cutting-edge equipment required in the deal would attract more doctors and paying patients and shorten hospital stays.

    ‘‘It’s the difference between the teacher that has been working with encyclopedias for years, versus the teacher using computers and the internet,” Griffith said. ‘‘Our patients deserve that level of excellence.”

    Neimann said County Executive Jack B. Johnson, in a meeting with lawmakers, said the county is will put a chunk of money up for capital improvements, though Johnson declined to say how much.
    [. . .].
  • County to accept offers from for profit entities for hospital system.
  • Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson announced today that due to the high degree of interest in the county's hospital system from non-profit and for profit entities, the recent Request For Offers for the county's healthcare system will be amended to accept offers from for profit entities as well.

    "Given the magnitude of this issue and the desire for a long-term strategy for our hospital system, it is in the best interests of the county to listen to the full array of opinions and ideas of how to provide emergency medical care in the county," Johnson said. "That is why we have opened this process to any entity that can best serve the citizens and residents of Prince George's County."

    In addition to the amendment, the timelines for the submissions have also been adjusted. Entities wishing to submit questions must do so by March 6 and all answers will be provided by March 15. Those wishing to submit offers must do so by March 24.

    The amendment is available online at www.goprincegeorgescounty.com or you can pick it up at the Office of Central Services located at 1400 McCormick Drive in Largo.
  • Hospital Bids Opened to For-Profit Groups.
  • PG steps up search for hospitals savior.
  • Prince George's County has stepped up its search for a partner to take over the troubled county health-care system, posting a "request for offers" on the county Web site and hosting a briefing last week for interested suitors.

    County and system officials say the latest moves are part of a long-running process aimed at stabilizing a system that badly needs an infusion of money and prestige.

    "It's the next step in getting that affiliation that's been talked about to help put the system on solid ground," said Laurel City Council member Fred Smalls, a member of the board of directors of Laurel Regional Hospital.

    Laurel Regional is part of the Dimensions Healthcare System, as are Prince George's Hospital Center and Gladys Spellman Nursing Center in Cheverly and the Bowie Health Center.

    Smalls said the system's chronic money shortage has prevented Laurel Regional from buying the latest medical equipment, which makes the hospital less attractive to doctors and patients - and in turn leads to losing even more money.

    "We've got to stop that revolving door," he said.

    The county is hoping to replace Dimensions, which runs the system for the county, with a major Maryland university medical system. County and hospital officials say that would boost the system's reputation and give it better access to doctors, nurses and other health professionals.

    "We're open to anyone interested in partnering with us," said John Erzen, a spokesman for County Executive Jack Johnson. "But we want to make sure we get the best possible fit."

    He said the county does not want to split up the current system but keep all four components together. Also, Erzen said, the county is looking for someone interested in building a hospital in Bowie.

    An oversight committee last year found that the system ran a deficit of $54 million during the previous five-year period, and laid much of the blame on Dimensions' "history of poor leadership and management."

    The committee's chief recommendation was to replace Dimensions with another entity.

    In recent months, the pressure has mounted to come up with a solution for the system's financial woes.

    Dimensions President and CEO Dunlop Ecker wrote Johnson two months ago warning that the hospitals might have to shut down if the situation did not improve.

    In a Jan. 27 letter to Johnson, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Anthony McCann said he was concerned about the system's "worsening financial situation" but pleased that "a process is now in place to move toward a sale or merger."

    He said the state could help out with funding, but urged Johnson to come up with a plan for solving the problem by this month.

    Erzen said "several different organizations" attended last week's briefing on the health-care system, but said he could not identify those organizations.

    County Council member Thomas Hendershot of New Carrollton, a member of the oversight committee that studied the health-care system, said the latest steps to find a new health system manager "makes (changes in the system) real."

    Henderson also noted that county officials had been fretting about the ailing health-care system for years.

    "We could've been where we are now a few years ago," he said. He blamed the delay on a new county executive taking over after the 2002 election, which he said slowed the process of finding a solution.

    Hendershot said anyone interested in taking over the system will want to gain control of the system's assets as well as an infusion of public money to help keep the system afloat.

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