Fictions persist about local health provider

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I'm amazed that people continue to spread myths about MCG Health Inc. After turning one of the nation's worst performers into one of the country's best, we still find ourselves having to prevent revisionist history.

The vision for MCG Health originated with the former president of the Medical College of Georgia, and was approved by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, despite opposition from former state Sen. Charles Walker, and former Reps. Benjamin Allen and Robin Williams, among others. And, by the way, despite claims to the contrary, there is one captain of this ship -- the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

OUR RESTRUCTURING was similar to academic medical center spinoffs in Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas and other states. MCG Health gives the hospitals and clinics the ability to generate an operating margin; hold reserves; enter into multiple-year contracts; form joint ventures; locally purchase goods and services; and gain access to capital -- all of the flexibility needed for growth and expansion.

In Fiscal Year 1999, the hospitals and clinics lost $10 million, and were about to lose another $25 million by the end of FY 2000. The organization was in a five-year death spiral in all key measures -- patient satisfaction, patient volume, cost and accounts receivable. Salaries hadn't increased in three years. Eighty-five percent of the employees were paid below the market averages for their positions. Over the past seven years, we have remedied all of these deficiencies.

I'M PUZZLED by the notion that this restructuring has weakened the medical college. On the contrary, we have provided $71 million to the medical college for academic development and research, $294 million for graduate medical education and faculty support, $150 million in capital improvements and $50 million for a state-of-the-art management/clinical information system, thanks to the financial strength of our health system. Interestingly, Atlanta's Grady Health System is now proposing a restructuring similar to ours.

I'm equally puzzled by the notion that this restructuring has made the medical college vulnerable to attack. On the contrary, a strong academic medical center virtually guarantees that the medical college will remain intact in Augusta. When the health system was at its weakest in 1999, there was talk of consolidating the medical college into the University of Georgia. Once MCG Health stabilized the clinical delivery system, this talk disappeared.

I hope that these facts put to rest some of the inaccuracies about MCG Health continuing to spread throughout the community.

(The writer is president and chief executive officer of MCG Health Inc.)

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patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 01/13/08 - 07:48 am
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A well written article, Mr

A well written article, Mr Snell. Thank you for the information.

Bizarro
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Bizarro 01/13/08 - 08:34 am
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I wonder how many people died

I wonder how many people died in the hospital during this restructuring related to under staffing. I have talked to a number of physicians who complained about it. Lots of complaints concerning staff reliablility and action-probably because they were over worked. Send yourself or a familly member to University-it is a much better hospital. Grady is desperate to try anything.

georgia girl1
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georgia girl1 01/13/08 - 01:51 pm
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Your accomplishments from a

Your accomplishments from a financial standpoint are commendable, but the quackish practices and deception to the patient in order to generate funds is despicable and deplorable. This is happening TODAY, and nothing is being done to correct it. The pretenses of operating in the caring mode is wrong ... because you don't care about a human life ... it is the money you can suck out of a patient under the most belligerant circumstances that interests you. I KNOW because I am one of your victims.

jack
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jack 01/13/08 - 04:51 pm
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Too many nurses replaced with

Too many nurses replaced with Nursing assistants or what ever LPNs are called these days, so called ambulatory care clinics which do not provide efficient wheel chair service from the parking deck to the clinics for those who are not ambulatory, failure to inform patients of leaking heart valves are some of the reasons I changed to University Hospital.

Fiat_Lux
15043
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Fiat_Lux 01/13/08 - 06:26 pm
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MCG may be running much

MCG may be running much further in the black these days, but with all the scare tactics being used against poor patients, you'd never know it. It was done at their expense and on the backs of the people who work there. Employee morale has never been lower than it has been over the past five years, and the exodus of the best of MCG's caregivers-- physicians and nurses-- is plenty of testament to that. Mr. Snell, you may have put MCGHI and MCG in a better place financially, but the way you have done it has transformed MCG from a wonderful place into just another monolith of statistics and bottom lines. Patient care is nothing like as good as it was in the 80s and 90s, the decades I worked there. There still are some great people working there, but it is not the great place it once was, not by a long shot.

Bizarro
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Bizarro 01/13/08 - 08:13 pm
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"Patient care is nothing like

"Patient care is nothing like as good as it was in the 80s and 90s," Amen. The institution lost a huge asset with the early retirement-decades of experience and internationally recognized physicians.

KSL
126051
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KSL 01/14/08 - 02:40 am
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I don't know about any other

I don't know about any other areas, but they have top notched people in the cardiothoracic surgery department. Don't know how the rest of post op care is now, but in 2003 it was superb

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