Damage control

Hospital board starts to repair ‘Blackhawk’ era wrong turns

The Rockdale Hospital Board has a big task as it attempts to undo the damage caused in the final year Richards Memorial Hospital was operated by the now-defunct Blackhawk Healthcare.

Of course much more needs to be done but some positive steps are already being made.

Blackhawk collapsed like a punctured inner tube in 2010. It happened so quickly RMH directors were unaware anything was amiss until receiving a shocking report in a May executive session that showed Blackhawk was on the road to imploding.

It happened quicker than anyone could have guessed. Popular physicians began to be fired or forced out. On the last day of July came the “Midsummer Massacre” when Blackhawk laid off about 40 percent of the RMH workforce.

In November Blackhawk went belly up and probably would have taken RMH down with it had not Kevin Owens from Georgetown stepped in and purchased the failing company, specifically to save Richards Memorial.

Serious damage had been done. Dr. John M. Weed III, chief of the RMH medical staff, said last week Blackhawk had terminated six of the hospital’s 12 largest revenue producers.

It’s been pointed out the key to hospital revenue is the encounter between a patient and a doctor, what happens from that encounter fuels everything. That would seem like Hospital Management 101. But RMH got away from that under Blackhawk.

Restoring those encounters is the top priority for the hospital board, management and staff. Some progress has already been made. Cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Sheinberg is returning as is internal medicine specialist Dr. Franklin Chen. RMH is now expected to formalize agreements with Dr. Janelle House (osteopathy) and surgeon Dr. Clyde Smith. The RMH cath lab is coming back this year.

Tough decisions and hard work lies ahead. But it’s a start.—M.B.

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2011-01-20 digital edition

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