Mayor Megan Barry’s surprise announcement that she would be closing down inpatient care for Nashville Metro General Hospital almost spelled the end for the institution, but Metro Minority Caucus members, clergy, and a host of other politicians and community leaders are committed to keeping General’s doors open.
Uncertainty caused by the mayor as to the future of the hospital has caused a number of paying patients and employees to leave Nashville Metro General making the problem it faces worse.
“Because of the uncertainty the employees and patients have felt like the hospital is going to close. General Hospital needs to remain open,” said Councilman Scott Davis. “As the chairman of the minority caucus, I and my members stand with keeping General Hospital open, and Dr. Joseph Webb as its head.”
That commitment was evident on Tuesday when Council members Erica Gilmore (D-At-Large) and Steve Glover (R-District 12) filed legislation that will require that inpatient care at the Hospital be maintained through June 30, 2019.
Gilmore said, “I sponsored the ordinance because I see a deep need for healthcare for the citizens of this city and the importance of having a city hospital. Councilman Glover and I stand in total solidarity on the need and the critical role that Nashville general hospital plays in providing care for our most vulnerable citizens. The citizens of Nashville have expressed in large numbers with great concern that the city has found opportunities to fund soccer stadiums, provide subsidies for corporations, but is unwilling to find funding for our most vulnerable population.”
The previous week, community leaders met to discuss the fate of general hospital. The group OneNashville held an Alert Breakfast Forum on General Hospital with civic, clergy and city leaders.
General is a safety net hospital, that means it has a legal obligation to provide healthcare for individuals regardless of their insurance status and regardless of their ability to pay.
For indigent patients with chronic diseases, it means the difference between life and death.
“The reality is that there are people walking among us who have this notion that other hospitals are going to pick up the slack,” said Jay Voorhees Senior Pastor of the City Road Chapel United Methodist Church. “Understand that legally, all other hospitals have to do is stabilize somebody in an emergency room; then they can release them. So if you have cancer, that doesn’t get treated in the emergency room, that’s a long term process.”
Low income and marginalized patients with chronic diseases are sent away because of an inability to pay and never seen again until the next emergency.
Nashville General CEO Dr. Joseph Webb has worked to change that. Webb’s evidence based proven outcomes has shown significant patient improvement and reduced costs.
“It is what we started 3 years ago, and that is why we have the outcomes that we are seeing,” said Webb.
Nashville General puts patients in a model where they learn how to take care of their chronic illness.
Web contends that he and his staff are not just being emotional about saving the hospital, but that they are working so hard because they are saving lives.
“There are individuals walking in here every day saying ‘I’ve been turned down, I have cancer (or some other illness) and I need help.’ I want to remind you that what we are fighting for is a behind the scene initiative that is something to be proud of.”
Letter from Nashville Minority Caucus
Recently, the Hospital Authority, along with the executive leadership presented the status of the hospital to the Minority Caucus. Upon hearing a very detailed presentation, and asking questions, it appeared that there had been no mismanagement on the part of the hospital. We, the Minority Caucus support Nashville General Hospital.
The hospital had decreased costs and rectified its accounts considerably, and they were prepared to ask for $13 million insincerity; however, after the Mayor’s reckless announcement, the hospital has been thrown into a tailspin.
The faithful staff who has worked at the hospital for many years have departed fearful that their jobs have already been eliminated. These Staff members held critical positions in the hospital that greatly affected the hospital’s ability to operate. With all the proceeding events in play, the hospital is in need of $19.7 million instead of the original $13 million, with these costs increasing daily.
We understand the true significance of the hospital to our city; furthermore, we acknowledge that the Mayor’s announcement did considerable damage to the hospital’s staff, patients, and board members.
Therefore, we are asking all councilmember to support the hospital in their request for $19.7 million or more. Understand that these are not only trying times for the hospital but for the staff and citizens of Nashville.
In closing, Dr. Webb has been a strong, dependable leader during this time, and we ask the Authority Members to renew his contract. It is only fair to the employees of NGH, and anything ese would be unacceptable during such a turbulent time. The Hospital deserves stability at its highest levels, and Dr. Webb can provide it.
Metropolitan Minority Caucus