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Thursday, June 28, 2007

PG Hospital Circus Update

(Posted 28 Jun 2007)
County hospital system’s path to the brink
Gazette, 28 Jun 2007 (Berger).
[Includes a 13 point timeline/history of the hospital issue this year.]

Sick and tired of hospital bailout blunders
Gazette, 28 Jun 2007 (Editorial).
The continual threats regarding the Dimensions Healthcare System crisis in Prince George's have become a disappointing reminder of county leaders' inability to resolve the problem.
[* * *]
County leaders, realizing that Prince George's Hospital alone serves 180,000 patients annually, continue to fumble through efforts to save the system.

In 2004, County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) came to an agreement with then Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) for a state and county bailout plan. However, Johnson failed to consult the County Council, who promptly nixed the plan.

Early this year, a $5 million payment was in dispute. Dimensions said the county failed to pay; county officials said Dimensions received the money. The county never admitted error, but the money was doled out soon after the dispute.

State officials later formulated a deal that Johnson supported, but the council rejected it in the waning hours of the General Assembly's legislative session April 9. The council instead settled on another short-term fix.

And the saga continues. [More]

Hospital funding stream frozen; Dimensions trying to reach compromise after rejecting high-stakes demands by county executive.
Gazette, 28 Jun 2007 (Berger).
. . . Rick Abbruzzese, spokesman for Gov. Martin O’Malley, said Wednesday that O’Malley was not actively engaged in the disagreement, but was monitoring the situation closely. . . . Johnson’s chief of staff, Michael Herman, who sits on the board . . . was forbidden from voting on the matter at the board meeting on Monday. Johnson’s demand was rejected 5-2. County Council Chairwoman Camille Exum (D-Dist. 7) of Seat Pleasant, who also sits on the board, was absent.
[* * *]
Johnson’s latest move led to a reprise of the blame game that broke out after the legislative session.

Del. Doyle Niemann (D-Dist. 47) of Mount Rainier, who helped lead the failed hospital negotiations, said the county was attempting to seize power from the hospital without any plan to improve the facility and that the move was irresponsible.

‘‘This is a game of chicken,” he said. ‘‘The county is pushing the hospital to the edge, and may push it over the edge.”

Niemann suggested filing suit against the county, or even calling a special legislative session to resolve the problem.

But Del. Barbara Frush (D-Dist. 21) of Beltsville, chairwoman of the county House delegation, said there was no time.

‘‘You feel like you’ve been punched in the stomach. We worked so hard to work out a solution, and so many people stepped up to the plate to try to divert this,” she said. ‘‘It’s shameful ... This is just a big mess, and it’s a very sad day for the citizens of Prince George’s County.”

If the hospital has no source of outside revenue by August and decides to close, it will have to notify employees then that it will close within 60 days.
[* * *]
Herman said Exum agreed with Johnson’s conditions, but Council Vice Chairman David Harrington (D-Dist. 5) of Cheverly said the matter never came before the full council. [More]
Need for a Hospital Plan
PrinceGeorge's Discussion, 27 Jun 2007 (Del. Niemann).
Jacob and others are on the mark when they point to the critical need to have a plan when it comes to our hospital system. And by
a "plan," we should be talking about much more than another band-aid designed to just keep the doors to the system open, but a plan that aims to design a new health care delivery system for our county.
[* * *]
I have outlined a bill for the next legislative session (if we can get there) that I believe will do the things I have described. Others may disagree. I challenge them, however, to publicly reveal their alternative. Let us have a public debate on the future we want and how what we propose will get us there.
A Bitter Pill For County Liaison to Hospitals.
Post, 28 Jun 2007 (Helderman & Hernandez).
When the Prince George's hospital system's board of directors voted Monday evening to reject County Executive Jack B. Johnson's demand that several members resign, one board member's vote wasn't counted. And it was a biggie.

In a closed-door session just before discussing Johnson's demand, the board voted that two of its 11 members, Johnson's chief of staff, Michael D. Herman, and Council Chairman Camille Exum (D), have a conflict of interest that prevented them from voting. The board agreed that since Herman and Exum act on behalf of county government, they do not have exclusive allegiance to Dimensions Healthcare System, the nonprofit company that has run Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly since 1982 and owns other medical facilities in the county.

Exum was not present, so the decision had little impact on her. But when Herman waved his hand to vote in favor of the board accepting Johnson's terms, he was ignored by Chairman Calvin Brown and the board's clerk.
[* * *]
Critics of the county's role in hospital management have long maintained that Exum and Herman are hopelessly conflicted when they vote about the hospital's future as members of an independent corporate board. The board's willingness to go on record agreeing with that position only illustrates the depth of the split between hospital leaders and county officials.
Dimensions Healthcare prepares alternative restructuring plan.
Baltimore Business Journal, 27 Jun 2007 (Sinha).

Brown says Maryland’s still willing to deal.
Examiner, 27 Jun 2007 (Fowler).

[Note: The Washington Times continues to ignore the hospital issue.]

27 Jun 2007, 26 Jun 2007, 20 Apr 2007, 11 Apr 2007, 5 Apr 2007, 4 Apr 2007 [More]

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