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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

PG Hospital Circus: Board thumbs its nose at Jack Johnson; board member Camille Exum doesn't bother to attend.

(Posted 26 Jun 2007)
In my opinion, the board members in question should resign, along with our incompetent and corrupt public officials--including County Executive Jack B(ozo) Johnson, council chair and credit card crook Camille Exum, and most of the rest of our council--who have refused for years to do anything positive about fixing the hospital's problems. They seem to be good at delay, obfuscation, confrontation, breaking promises, brinkmanship, and looking for sinecures for cronies, but absolutely worthless when it comes to finding or supporting any real solution.

Hospital Conflict.
Maryland Moment, 26 Jun 2007 (Helderman).
When the Prince George's hospital system's board of directors voted Monday evening to reject County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D)'s demand that several members resign, the vote of one of the board members present wasn't counted. And it was a biggie.

In a closed door session just before taking up discussion of the executive's demand, the board voted that two of its members have a conflict of interest that prevented them from voting based entirely on their allegiance to the nonprofit company, Dimensions Healthcare System.

The group agreed that the county's two representatives on the board, Johnson Chief of Staff Michael D. Herman and County Council Chairman Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant) couldn't vote on the critically important item. Exum was not present at the meeting, so the decision had little impact on her. But Herman's waving hand voting that the board accept Johnson's terms was ignored by Chairman Calvin Brown and the board's clerk.
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Critics of the county's role in hospital management have long argued that Exum and Herman are hopelessly conflicted when they take votes about the hospital's future as members of an independent corporate board. The boards willingness to go on record agreeing with that position only illustrates the depth of the split that now exists between hospital leaders and county officials.
Hospital Board Refuses to Follow Executive's Call for Resignations.
Post, 26 Jun 2007 (Helderman).
The Prince George's hospital system's board of directors rejected yesterday a demand by County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) that several members resign, deepening a standoff between the county and the nonprofit company that runs several county medical facilities.

Johnson had said he would release no additional funding to the financially strapped hospital system until the board agrees to restructure itself. He demanded that four of the board's 11 members resign: the chairman, representatives of the boards of two hospitals in the system and the past president of the county's medical society. [More]
Dimensions Healthcare board’s vote puts PG hospitals at risk.
Examiner, 26 Jun 2007 (Fowler).

Prince George’s hospital funding in jeopardy.
Gazette, 26 Jun 2007 (Berger).
. . .Board member Donald Foran, one of the members Johnson was trying to remove, compared Johnson’s request to a ‘‘ransom note.”

Del. Doyle Niemann (D-Dist. 47) of Mount Rainier . . . said the county was irresponsibly attempting to seize power from the hospital without any plan to improve the facility.

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

Union leader: Dimensions board members shouldn't resign.
Examiner, 25 Jun 2007 (Fowler).

Mr. Johnson's Threat; The Prince George's hospital system becomes a bargaining chip.
Post, 24 Jun 2007 (Editorial).
. . . Prince Georgians should be getting sick and tired of their elected officials playing Russian roulette with a hospital system that serves 180,000 people a year.Mr. Johnson's gambit, which is devoid of any long-term strategy, involves forcing out four members of the Dimensions board of directors and replacing them with his loyalists. If Dimensions refuses, Mr. Johnson warns, the county will withhold payments, starting with $2 million due by the end of June. He does not bother to explain how such a shuffle will fix a structural problem at Dimensions that has drained $55 million from county coffers in the past five years. That's probably because it won't.
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For decades, the trend in Maryland and elsewhere has been for counties to get out of the business of managing hospitals; they are simply not up to the job. Unfortunately that sound lesson has been lost on officeholders in Prince George's, who see the hospital center and other Dimensions facilities as bargaining chips. By impeding the way forward to a solution for the county's hospital system, they are gambling with the health of tens of thousands of residents.
Pr. George’s might cut off hospital funding.
Examiner, 21 Jun 2007 (Fowler).
Despite pledging to fund Prince George’s County Hospital system through June 2008, the county said Wednesday it would not give the operator any more money until four members of its board of directors resign. [More]
Ultimatum For Prince George's Hospital; County Seeks 4 Resignations.
Post, 21 Jun 2007 (Helderman & Rein).
. . . Critics say Johnson is essentially trying to take over the system. . . .
Standoff brewing between Dimensions, County withholds $2M from hospital, after setting strict conditions for funding.
Gazette, 21 Jun 2007 (Berger).

Officials Seek Resignations of 4 Hospital Board Members
Post, 15 Jun 2007 (Helderman).
. . . "I think this is an outrageous power play on behalf of the County Council and the county executive, and it's meant to derail any serious attempt to come up with a long-term solution and to continue their domination of the hospital," said Del. Doyle L. Niemann (D-Prince George's).

Niemann said he thought the move, if successful, would "doom" chances of reaching an agreement with state lawmakers and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) next year.

The hospital system has been losing money for years and has received tens of millions of dollars in public subsidies. After the General Assembly session ended April 9 with no resolution of the system's problems, Johnson and the County Council agreed to use tax dollars to keep the hospitals open through June 2008.

At the time, hospital leaders said they did not think the county's help was conditional.

However, Johnson has long sought Brown's ouster and greater control over the board. Keary said yesterday's action was an attempt to give the public greater say and oversight over the system. He also said that when Dimensions accepted a $5 million cash infusion from the county in February, it agreed that any future help would be contingent on a board shake-up. At that time, the council passed legislation indicating that the board would agree to a restructuring if it accepted any additional tax dollars.

"We are going to hold them to that" agreement, Keary said. [More]

[Note: Del. Niemann's solution includes overriding TRIM and forcing a new tax on residents of Prince George's County.]

[Note: The Washington Times does not seem to consider this issue to be newsworthy.]

1 comment:

  1. I don't understand the game Jack is playing here. What's the upside to his takeover bid? His track record with county government proves he is totally incapable of running a hospital, and why would he want to soil what's left of his legacy with a failed hospital?

    The nonsensical aspects of this whole episode only illustrate how disastrous a Jack takeover would be.

    Dimensions should cut a deal with the State of Maryland - deed over the real assets (equipment, contracts and staff) and cut a deal to alleviate its debt liabilities. Then force Jack to forfeit the campus properties and hope the county can survive another three years of his term.