Category Archives: Health.Care

For-profit hospitals put to test in Mass.

Source: Robert Weisman, Boston Globe, July 12, 2013

The pending return of health care giant Tenet Healthcare Corp. to Massachusetts has the potential to shake up the state’s hospitals and doctors networks, which are already rapidly consolidating.

The for-profit system, which owns 49 hospitals in 11 states, will enter a marketplace much changed from the one it left in 2004, when the chain sold Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester and the MetroWest Medical Center hospitals in Framingham and Natick to Vanguard Health Systems Inc. for $126.7 million.

By agreeing last month to buy for-profit Vanguard for about $1.8 billion — a deal that will bring the three Massachusetts hospitals back into the Tenet fold — Dallas-based Tenet signaled that it has become more aggressive about expanding nationally at a time when more patients will be signing up for medical insurance under the new national health care law….

…The purchase also raises several questions that probably won’t be answered until it takes effect. Among them are what changes might be expected at the state’s three Vanguard-owned hospitals— Saint Vincent, Framingham Union Hospital, and Leonard Morse Hospital in Natick — and how the giant acquisition will affect Vanguard’s alliance with Tufts Medical Center in Boston, which has a clinical affiliation with the MetroWest hospitals and has jointly pursued the acquisition of Massachusetts community hospitals — thus far unsuccessfully — with Vanguard….

Jeff council clears way for hospital privatization / Privatization not up for parish vote

Source: Jeff Adelson, Advocate, July 11, 2013

The path is now clear for Jefferson’s public hospitals to be leased to one of three companies after the Parish Council removed a requirement that such a privatization be put to a vote of residents….

…The vote comes after years in which both East Jefferson General Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center have seen their financial fortunes decline. The institutions are now operating in the red or on razor-thin margins. That prompted the hospitals’ boards to consider a privatization effort aimed at shoring up the medical centers. But proponents of that measure said that deal would be quashed if they had to slug it out in a public vote in which competing health care companies could try to undermine the effort….

…The Legislature scrapped the state law requiring a public vote earlier this year, at the request of parish and hospital officials. That left only the parish ordinance as a hurdle in the privatization effort. Under the proposal approved by the council, the hospital boards will be able to come to agreements with a private company that would take over the hospitals. However, the outright sale of the hospitals would still require a proposition be put before the voters….

…The hospital boards are currently considering proposals from three companies: Oschner Health Systems, which owns a large number of hospitals in south Louisiana; Louisiana Children’s Medical Center, which owns Children’s Hospital in New Orleans and is partnered with the state to run the New Orleans public hospital; and HCA, which runs Tulane Medical Center….

FirstGroup America companies, First Transit and First Student, Win and Retain Contracts across the United States

Source: PR Newswire, July 1, 2013

…Arapahoe County and Denver Regional Council of Governments (Denver, Colo.) – Two Denver, Colo. agencies have chosen to extend their contracts with First Transit for two years, effective July 1, 2013. Both organizations rely on First Transit’s operation of First Ride to transport passengers ages 60 and up to and from medical and nutritional appointments.

Atascadero (Calif.) – The city of Atascadero has extended its contract with First Transit beginning July 1, 2013 to operate four paratransit routes and one fixed route.

Columbus County (Whiteville, N.C.) – Columbus County has renewed its agreement with First Transit for a variety of services including fixed rout and dial-a-ride services. The three-year deal effective July 1, 2013.

Cortland County Health Department (City of Cortland, N.Y.) – The partnership between Cortland County Health Department and First Transit has been renewed. First Transit will continue to provide school route transportation for children with special needs in the City of Cortland (N.Y.) and the surrounding areas of Marathon, Cincinnatus, Willet, Truxton, Homer, Hartford, Preble, McGraw, and Freeville. This new, 2-year contract begins July 1, 2013.

Missouri City Fire Department (Texas) – First Vehicle Services was recently awarded a one year contract with Missouri City Fire Department which began on June 1, 2013.

Paso Robles (Calif.) – First Transit has received a contract extension from the city of Paso Robles beginning July 1, 2013. This marks 22 years of service in Paso Robles which includes paratransit and fixed route services.

University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, Ala.) – First Transit was awarded a shuttle transit service contract from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) that will begin in July and operate throughout the 323-acre campus.

Seneca Nation of Indians (N.Y.) – Seneca Nation of Indians has announced a partnership with First Transit. Beginning July 1, 2013, First Transit will begin operating a two-bus route under a contract with the largest Native American nation in New York State.

Airport Community Schools (Mich.) – First Student has been selected to provide transportation for Airport Community Schools in Carleton, Michigan under a three-year contract beginning with the 2013-2014 school year.

Joshua Independent School District (Texas) – Joshua ISD recently awarded First Student a 10-year contract.

Chicago Public Schools (Ill.) – First Student will provide transportation for Chicago Public Schools under a recently announced 10-year contract. …

Hospital Performance Differences by Ownership

Source: David Foster, Louise Zrull, Jean Chenoweth, Truven Health Analytics, Research Brief, June 2013

Leaders of hospitals set different missions and goals that are influenced by the needs of the community, the challenges facing the organization, ownership, and other factors. We conducted this study to examine whether ownership is correlated with hospital balanced performance or the individual metrics of the Truven Health 100 Top Hospitals® balanced scorecard.

The performance scores of not-for-profit church-owned and other not-for-profit hospitals suggest that these hospitals are adhering to and achieving the mission of service to the community. The performance scores of for-profit hospitals suggest increased success in serving both the community and shareholders. The results showed that not-for-profit church-owned hospitals have had the greatest success in achieving balanced excellence (highest overall score on the balanced scorecard) in serving their communities. Given the performance across the measures in the scorecard, the church-owned hospitals are still leading other ownership groups in delivering high value to their communities with reliable high quality and efficiency and high patient perception of care at a reasonable cost. These hospitals are also financially stable. For-profit hospital performance shows increased balance between financial and clinical performance, but weakness in other metrics. More specifically, the for-profit hospitals excel in lower expenses and higher profits for shareholders and have made a significant gain in quality. Government hospitals demonstrate the weakest balanced performance, with significantly worse performance on core measures and inpatient expenses….

16 union members may not keep their jobs with subcontractor at Waterbury Hospital

Source: David Krechevsky, American-Republican, June 17, 2013

The union representing more than 160 workers employed by a Waterbury Hospital subcontractor said Monday that a new subcontractor says it won’t hire 16 longtime union members. Waterbury Hospital announced last month it had signed a new contract for non-medical patient services with The Compass Group of Charlotte, N.C., and two subsidiaries — food-service provider Morrison Management Specialists of Mobile, Ala., and Crothall Healthcare of Wayne, Pa., which provides housekeeping and patient transport services. The new contract takes effect Thursday, replacing one with Sodexo Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md., that was due to expire the next day. Sodexo employs 173 full- and part-time workers, most of whom formerly were hospital employees. …

Morrison Management previously notified the Sodexo workers it will recognize the union only “if members of the current bargaining unit make up a majority of the workforce” it hires, and that current employees are “all strongly encouraged to apply” for positions with the new company. According to Chernoff, company officials informed union negotiators Friday they would not hire 16 workers — all with lengthy seniority in the union — and want significant changes in any new contract from the one the union has with Sodexo.

“There was a list of nine or 10 things they wanted to get rid of,” Chernoff said. “A big one is the pension; they want to get rid of it and switch everyone into a 401(k).” Another big change, she said, is The Compass Group and its units want to change when a union worker becomes eligible for benefits from the current minimum of working 20 hours per week to more than 30 hours….

Amid series of complaints at Medical Examiner’s Office, Jacksonville considers privatizing office

Source: Mary Kelli Palka & Topher Sanders, jacksonville.com, June 17, 2013

Amid a series of complaints from Medical Examiner’s staff about management, facilities and salaries, Jacksonville has begun studying whether the office should be privatized. The Mayor’s Office began a review of the Medical Examiner’s Office for possible privatization in about August 2012 as one solution to deal with issues in the office. By that time, the city had heard complaints for about a year that included staffing shortage, staff retention, perception of fairness among staff, overall efficiency and facility maintenance…There are 17 civil service staff members who work at the Medical Examiner’s Office who are city employees. The doctors on staff work for the state. That dynamic makes it difficult for the city to work through management problems because the managers aren’t its employees, city officials said….If a public office is privatized, city employees could have the first option to stay with the new company, DeCamp said. But there isn’t a guarantee….

County may lose millions on sale of mental health facility

Source: Howard Roden, Courier, June 16, 2013

Selling off its mental health facility isn’t going to be profitable for Montgomery County as it was with the Joe Corley Detention Center. After earning an estimated $22 million from the sale of the jail, the county might lose between $2 million and $4 million on the 100-bed Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Facility. Still, both transactions could yield a surplus of approximately $18 million that county officials said they would previously earmark for future renovation and expansion of the Montgomery County Jail, located at 700 Hilbig Road in Conroe. Constructed in 2008 at a cost of $33 million, the MCMHTF was appraised recently at $22 million, The Courier has learned….

…While the appraised value is two-thirds of the MCMHTF’s construction cost might raise concern, the county has a safety net in The GEO Group Inc. Last month the world’s largest corrections company paid $65 million to acquire the 1,287-bed Joe Corley facility, even though the county’s minimum bid was $55 million and the jail’s appraised value was $44.2 million….GEO Care, a subsidiary of The GEO Group, has managed and operated the MCMHTF since it opened in 2008. The facility provides mental health management and treatment services for civil, forensic and special-needs psychiatric patient populations….
Related:
As East Texas public-private psych facility struggles, state plans more privatization
Source: Andrea Ball, Austin American-Statesman, July 22, 2012

Sixteen months after the Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Facility opened in Conroe, the state’s first publicly funded, privately run psychiatric hospital is facing at least $53,000 in state fines for serious shortcomings in patient care. The private operator, Geo Care, is a subsidiary of Geo Group, a private prison company that has drawn attention in recent years because of deaths, riots and sexual abuse at some units in Texas and other states….

…The problems come to light as the Department of State Health Services prepares to privatize one of the 10 public psychiatric hospitals it oversees. If Geo Care bids on the ongoing privatization effort — and it has expressed interest to public officials in doing so — its work in Montgomery County could be a harbinger of what taxpayers can expect if a for-profit company wins control of a public state hospital…The privatization process also comes at a time when the public psychiatric hospitals are mired in their own problems. Last month, former Austin State Hospital psychiatrist Charles Fischer was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on charges that he sexually abused five patients under his care at the facility….

NU regents reject health center privatization plan

Source: Kevin Abourezk, Lincoln Journal Star, June 7, 2013

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents rejected a 36-year contract Friday with Bryan Health to operate and build a new home for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s student health center. Bryan had planned to take over operations of the University Health Center in its current location at 1500 U St. on July 1. Bryan expected to substantially complete construction of a new $14.4 million building by December 2014. On Friday, five of the eight regents voted against the proposal, as well as all four student regents, whose votes don’t count toward the vote total…. No universities in the Big Ten Conference or Big 12 Conference currently have private student health centers, nor do any of UNL’s peer institutions….

…UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said the agreement would have allowed the university to avoid the uncertainties of providing health care under new federal guidelines set forth in the Affordable Care Act. It also would have helped UNL stabilize costs imposed on students for health services, he said….

…However, several regents said Friday they were concerned about the process used by UNL officials to seek approval for the plan…
Related:
Board of Regents hires consulting firm to help with health center privatization
Source: Conor Dunnc, Daily Nebraskan, April 4, 2013

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents has hired Deloitte consulting to answer its questions about Chancellor Harvey Perlman’s proposed plan to privatize student health care at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Although the consultant group will work with university administration and health center staff to assess the plan and need for privatization, it will give its final report to the regents, according to Regent Tim Clare. He said he expects the consultant will give its report in late April or early May, in time for the June 17 meeting….Since Perlman presented his privatization plan to the community, health center employees have jumped ship, seeking employment at other areas around campus to maintain benefits or simply seeking work elsewhere. Roughly a dozen employees have left the health center, including a couple physicians, the lead pharmacist, marketing coordinator and insurance coordinator….

Six hundred jobs to be eliminated as home health waiver jobs are outsourced to private companies

Source: Kim Chandler, AL.com blog, May 30, 2013

About 600 home health workers with the Alabama Department of Public Health will lose their jobs at the end of the fiscal year when those positions will be moved to the private sector. The jobs are being eliminated because the Health Department will cease being a service provider for the state’s Elderly and Disabled Medicaid Waiver. The program aims to keep people out of nursing homes by providing services such as assistance in bathing and housekeeping to help them live at home. However, beginning Oct. 1, the Health Department will stop providing the services for the Department of Senior Services after the Alabama Legislature did not give the Health Department requested matching funds. Legislators instead gave the Department of Senior Services, which manages the waiver program, a $2 million funding increase to provide the services through contracts with private providers. …The Elderly and Disabled Medicaid Waiver Program had been previously managed by both the Alabama Department of Senior Services and the Alabama Department of Public Health. Senior Services recently took over sole management of the waiver program….

Man accused of diverting nearly $17 million from D.C. tax-funded health plan

Source: Mike DeBonis, Washington Post, May 30, 2013

Businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson illicitly siphoned nearly $17 million from his taxpayer-funded health plan serving low-income District residents, the plan’s city-appointed receiver asserted in a lawsuit filed Thursday. The court action is the latest development in the collapse of D.C. Chartered Health Plan, which served more than 100,000 people receiving Medicaid and other government assistance before ending its business with the city this month. It is estimated that Chartered owes city health providers more than $60 million, and its current assets are likely to cover only a fraction of that. …

…The bulk of the $17 million represents Chartered money held in collateral by Cardinal Bank to secure a loan that the holding company took out in 2008 to settle a previous lawsuit that claimed Chartered and its affiliates had defrauded the city. The holding company, D.C. Healthcare Systems Inc., recently defaulted on the loan, leading Cardinal to seize $12 million, court papers say. Because Thompson had agreed to hold Chartered harmless in case of default, the receiver now claims the holding company owes Chartered the money….