safety net hospital

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Town Must Seem Tame To New Chief of Cambridge Health Alliance

If you’ve seen Michael Moore’s 1989 classic “Roger & Me,” with its unforgettable scenes of rabbit-skinning and boarded-up houses, you know that Flint, Michigan is a very, very gritty city — and I hear it’s even worse since the latest recession.

Hurley Medical Center is in the heart of it. I have ancient summer memories of visiting Hurley, where my late biological father was an internist, and feeling relieved when we drove into the parking garage, away from the scary neighborhoods surrounding it.

So when we just got the news that the new chief of Cambridge Health Alliance, Patrick Wardell, hails from Hurley, where he even managed to turn around the hospital’s finances and expand, my reaction was: “Wow, he was capable of all that — and then smart enough to get the heck out of Flint! Cambridge will surely seem unspeakably tame to him.”

A chunk of the Cambridge Health Alliance press release on Patrick Wardell’s selection:

CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Cambridge Health Alliance Board of Trustees today announced the selection of Patrick Wardell as the new Chief Executive Officer for Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA). Mr. Wardell currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. The Board of Trustees reviewed three finalists following multiple interviews and unanimously chose Mr. Wardell at this morning’s Board meeting. Mr. Wardell’s appointment as Cambridge Health Alliance’s new Chief Executive Officer is contingent on contract negotiations. Continue reading

Exploring The Budget Crisis At BMC

For the back story on Boston Medical Center’s worsening financial problems, its $175 million budget shortfall and the conditions that drove the decision to cut 119 jobs, listen to WBUR’s Martha Bebinger on Radio Boston. She raises the critical question: What is the state’s commitment to keeping the largest “safety net” hospital afloat as it struggles to uphold its legal mission to serve the neediest and most vulnerable patients?

Service Employees International Union representative Jeff Hall says BMC’s job cuts will further erode access to care. And Brian Rosman, research director for the nonprofit Health Care for All, highlights a major, unresolved problem: implicit in the 2006 health reform law was a provision to raise Medicaid reimbursments so they actually matched the true cost of care (currently the reimbursement is about sixty-four cents for every dollar.) But due to the economic downturn in the state (and nation), that hasn’t happened.

One question that hasn’t been answered is whether payment reform might help alleviate some of BMC’s problems? Stay tuned.