Friday, June 27, 2008

State Health Planning Board Impact Part 1

The action of the State Health Planning Board should not have come as a surprise. Commissioner Howard's comments months ago indicated that she had given assurances to Solaris that their CN would be granted. For at least a year Solaris has proceeded with a preconceived plan typical of mergers; Strip the acquired operation of its valued assets and the dump the worthless shell. This included quietly obtaining Planning Board approval for rezoning the property into separate lots. Once they vacate the hospital these lots sold separately will be a financial windfall .

Among ignored warning signs were the subtle changes in OR scheduling procedures that made it more desirable for surgical specialist such as orthopedics and vascular to use JFK rather than MRMC. These created the significant drop in overall admissions.

The sale of the SurgiCare center 6 years ago to the doctors who would admit to the same day surgery unit not only shifted patient admissions away from the hospital but gave statistical data to support the claim that the bad doctors were contributing to the hospital losses by using free standing facilities.

The State Health Planning Board's consists of 11 members, 4 are so called Providers, 3 more "Consumers" , 2 Ex-Officio with vote, representing the the Health Care Administration Board ,and the Public Health Council, and 2 Ex-Officio without vote ,one from the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services office, the other representing the Commissioner of Human Services.

Only 5 members, a quorum,were present for the final hearing, Until I see the list of those present the mix is unknown, but I would imagine that all were voting members. At least one voter was an Ex-Officio member,Michael Baker representing the Health Care Administration Board also a department of the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).

The fact that they voted shortly after the end of the hearing suggests that the outcome was predetermined. Unless I have missed it, the minutes of the previous meetings do not included receipt of written comments on the CN.

What waits to be seen is how quick the Commissioner signs off on the CN. How rapidly Solaris closes the doors. And how soon a buyer for the various 'lots" appears on the scene.

What is critical is whether the civil authorities are ready to take action within hours after the CN becomes effective. If there will be an injunction filed? Will Plainfield start "eminent domain" proceedings? Will JFK be presented with a tax bill the day they stop operating as a non-profit?

Granting the fact that Solaris has proceeded so completely into the operational destruction of MRMC , there is no possibility to return the hospital to the high quality medical facility that we knew. Therefore ,new entity will have to be created, hopefully without loss of continuity. It is imperative that we get the time. Solaris will of course do every thing in its power to deny any stay.

We are aware that there is at least one viable option in the wings to replace the present hospital with a smaller functional hospital that will meet the area's needs. Obviously the unused structures may be converted into profitable facilities.

What we need is total civic and communities support. Without delay the affected municipal governments must take assertive action. It is almost to late to "talk the talk", we must without delay be prepared to "walk the walk". For some time, Plainfield's Council has been request by concerned citizens to initiate the frame work for a proactive response. Will continued inaction kill all hope?

I hope to have an opportunity to view the SHPB's report to Commissioner Howard. Will there be any credence given to the Public Advocates remarks? Was there any efforts given to verify Solaris's statistics, and what impact has the delayed filing of the 2007 financial reports had on the veracity of claimed losses.

I will continue this analysis within the next few days.

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