Hospital rebound: ‘Just give us a chance’

RMH heading back to what worked before last year’s Blackhawk disaster
Reporter Editor

Hospital Medical Staff Chief Dr. John M. Weed III (L) and consultant Jeff Madison display RMH’s gamma camera in nuclear medicine, which is used in ‘pre cath lab’ cardiac evaluation procedure. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Hospital Medical Staff Chief Dr. John M. Weed III (L) and consultant Jeff Madison display RMH’s gamma camera in nuclear medicine, which is used in ‘pre cath lab’ cardiac evaluation procedure. Reporter/Mike Brown “Give us a chance. We can fix this situation by returning to this hospital’s good old-fashioned values. They’ve worked before.”

Jeff Madison, who is again the key administrator of Richards Memorial Hospital, probably has a right to utter such an optimistic statement.

After all, he’s already “ been there and done that.”

Madison helped lead RMH out of a financial crisis after he was hired in 2003. Now he’s back in the wake of last year’s Blackhawk Healthcare implosion, during which the local facility probably came within a few days of closing.

“ There’s nothing similar in those two situations,” Madison told The Reporter this week. “Last time it was a matter of trying new ideas, finding what would work.”

“This time we know what will work. Blackhawk got away from that. We’ve got to get back to it,” he said.

RESULTS—Madison works for Innovative Healthcare Management and Medical Staff Management of Georgetown.

The firm has been hired by new Blackhawk owner Kevin Owens to manage RMH.

“We’re going to return to the values we had in place before (Blackhawk’s problems last year),” Madison said. “In fact, we’re already doing it.”

Departure of physicians and services under the new Black- hawk regime, which assumed control of RMH management in early 2010, was pegged as a key reason for the hospital’s most recent financial crisis.

“A ll of the physicians who departed, except one, are back,” Madison said. “And we have gotten back all the nurse-practitioners we had before.”

With the return of those practices patients have responded. “We had a 15 percent upturn in utilization in January,” he said.

Madison said cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Sheinberg and internal medicine Dr. Franklin Chen are again seeing patients, as are nurse-practitioners Laura Boyette, Krista Willie, Crystal Orr and Rachael Stolte.

“Business has surged in our Cameron clinic,” he said. “We’ve gone to expanded hours.”

RESIGNATION—What happened last spring to derail what had been a spectacular business recovery from ongoing problems which included a lengthy Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“ There was a change of philosophy and a change of culture at Blackhawk,” he said.

Among those who did not agree with those new directions was Madison, who resigned from Blackhawk one year ago.

“I just couldn’t support the direction it was going,” he said.

A number of other Blackhawk executives also left, he said.

By spring physicians were departing from Richards Memorial.

Dr. John M. Weed III told hospital district board members last month that at one point six of the hospital’s top 12 revenue producers were terminated.

“There were also some lawsuits as a result of those business decisions,” Madison said.

NEAR MISS—About 40 percent of the RMH workforce was terminated the last day of July.

In November, Blackhawk closed its hospital in Bastrop and Rockdale was apparently in the crosshairs before Owens stepped in and bought Blackhawk.

Owens told RHD board members he bought the company specifically to keep Richards Memorial from closing.

Hospital revenue was down $4.3 million in 2010.

Madison doesn’t minimize the impact of what happened in 2010.

“The medical community was very unhappy,” he said. “And I fear we’ve lost a certain amount of goodwill in the community at large.”

BACK TO THE FUTURE— It’s no secret what the recovery plan is this time around.

“ We’re going back to what worked before,” Madison said. “ We will reopen the cath lab, we’re going to recruit a primary care physician. We’re working with a Georgetown orthopedic group to provide more permanent coverage.”

One of its members is Dr. Charles Schwertner, the new District 20 representative in the Texas Legislature.

“ We are re- instituting our hospital house- call practice for the homebound and those who have just been released,”

Madison said.

ONE-YEAR TURN- AROUND—Madison was hired at the end of 2003 and it was three years before the hospital began to be self-sufficient.

“I don’t think it will take that much time in the present situation,” Madison said.

“I believe we can return to pre- Blackhawk (financial) numbers in 12 months.”

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