NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Community members and employees from Nashville General Hospital hoped to learn more about the mayor’s plan to slash services at the safety-net hospital at a meeting held Monday night.
However, they walked away with few answers.
Dozens of people sat in council chambers at a special-called Budget and Finance Committee meeting. Leaders with SEIU, the Tennessee healthcare workers union, General Hospital and Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall were among those who presented and answered questions for the committee.
Unfortunately, none could answer how Mayor Megan Barry plans to execute her proposal to turn Nashville General into an out-patient facility and end in-patient care.
Nashville General has historically accepted the city’s indigent population even if they don’t have insurance or are unable to pay. Over the years, the poor have received cancer treatments, birthed babies or undergone surgeries for essentially no charge.
“I care about this population that I serve,” said registered nurse Ann Still. She has worked at Nashville General for eleven years. “I enjoy treating them and I enjoy that fact these people appreciate this care so very much.”
But that treatment has come at a cost for the city. For years, Nashville General Hospital has operated in the red.
Nearly two weeks ago, Mayor Barry sent a letter announcing plans to create a “financially sustainable” model.
Council members Scott Davis, DeCosta Hastings, and Steve Glover have denounced the mayor’s plan, saying they were blindsided by the decision.
“We’re elected to represent the people but it’s challenging to do that when we hear about stuff in the news media,” Glover told News 2.
Glover said he’s not sure if the plan will even save the city money because Mayor Barry has said she wants to help pay for indigent patients to go to other area hospitals through an Indigent Care Fund.
What’s more, Glover points out, nothing is stopping other hospitals from turning patients away if they don’t have insurance or can’t pay.
“A million here, a million there. It adds up to real money and taxpayers are sick of this. But really, we’re talking about people’s lives here.”
In an email, the mayor’s spokesperson said patient intake has steadily declined in the past seven years.
“The Mayor has proposed that we pursue a better model for patient care with a focus on outpatient and emergent care at Nashville General, while utilizing the existing resources of the community to serve the needs of inpatient care.
“The average daily census at Nashville General Hospital has declined from about 63 per day in 2010 to 28 per day in the month of October of this year. In the coming weeks and months, stakeholders will be convened to help develop and prepare for this new model of better patient care in a way that better utilizes the financial resources of Metro taxpayers that is going towards indigent care in our city.”
The mayor’s office hopes to have the new plan in place in the next six to nine months.