May 18, 2015
“The Hospital” is something no one is supposed to talk about; however, it may be time that the board and administration of Jasper Memorial Hospital (JMH) talk about what is going on at Oconee Regional, how it will affect JMH, and how the tax money paid by Jasper County citizens will be used.
JMH has an agreement with Oconee Regional; several years ago JMH was leased to Oconee Regional for $1.00 per year. Since that time both the JMH and the Retreat have been part of Oconee Regional and are included in the Oconee Regional Health Systems audit. Last year’s audit shows that the Retreat made $900,000 and Jasper Memorial lost $200,000.
Oconee Regional has become part of the Medical Center in Macon, now run by Navicent.
The people of Baldwin County recently found out things were not going well with ORMC. Now that things seem to have gotten worse, the hospital board admits a lack of transparency in the past—read the articles below that were in the Union Recorder newspaper this past week:
ORMC went into ‘technical default’ on bonds three years ago
Posted: Friday, May 15, 2015 1:00 pm
by Billy W Hobbs
Oconee Regional Medical Center in Milledgeville went into what has been described as “technical default” three years ago, according to David Groseclose, chairman one of two local hospital boards.
He made that statement during a Monday night meeting that began in the administration boardroom of the hospital and later followed with a question and answer session with physicians, medical staff and private residents that packed the educational center downstairs.
“Since 2011, we have been on a downslide with our finances,” Groseclose told the standing room only crowd of between 250 and 300 people.
Standing room only crowd attends public ORMC meeting
A standing-room-only crowd packed the educational center meeting room at ORMC Monday night to hear answers related to the hospital’s financial woes.
Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 11:52 am
by Billy W Hobbs
More than two dozen questions were asked of local officials who serve on boards at Oconee Regional Medical Center about what’s going on at the local hospital in terms of its financial woes and the way the hospital is managed.
For the first time, hospital board officials admitted, publicly, that there had been a lack of transparency about several matters at the hospital.
The meeting with the public, which was held in the educational center of the hospital, drew between 250 and 300 people, including dozens of staff physicians, other medical staff and private residents.
“We’re going to make this a listening session,” Ted Zarkowsky, chairman of the ORMC Health Systems Board, said. “We want to hear everybody’s thoughts.”
The open session lasted more than an hour as hospital board members attempted to answer as many questions as they could.
A closed-door executive session meeting, held prior to the public question and answer session, was described by Zarkowsky as a strategy session.
“We’re still in session from the ORMC Health Systems Board meeting,” said David Groseclose, chairman of the ORMC Hospital Medical Board. “We’re glad to see you here tonight. We’re going to have additional opportunities for your input.”
During the Q&A session, one man asked what role did board members play, and whether or not the board had the ability to hire and fire management personnel.
The two-board system meets at various times to decide certain issues at the hospital, and board members have the ability to hire and fire.
“In reality, the board is responsible for the operations of the hospital,” Groseclose said. “We do that through a management staff. Our responsibilities are No. 1, is the quality of health care, and that responsibility does fall on the board.”
Another role played by board members is the credentialing of physicians, he explained.
“Our No. 1 thing is to try to look out for the welfare and continued operations of our community hospital,” Groseclose said.
One woman asked about the salary of ORMC CEO Jean Aycock and why she wasn’t in attendance for the meeting.
Aycock actually did attend the meeting and stood near the front of the room, not far from where board members were seated. She stood for the entire Q&A session, but was never asked any questions by the audience.
“Jean Aycock is our president and CEO,” Groseclose said. “Her compensation is set and approved by the board. Her current salary is, I think with all the benefits that go with it, is about $340,000 a year. That’s give or take. It’s a significant salary.”
He pointed out that she has not received a salary increase in three or four years, and that she doesn’t set her salary. That’s something board members set.
“You’ve got to have a CEO and you’ve got to pay your CEO,” Groseclose said, noting that her salary is based upon what it would cost to fill a position at a similar size hospital in a similar setting. “You can’t get it done for nothing.”
One woman asked what community residents could do to help the hospital.
“You’re doing it tonight, and we appreciate you being here,” Groseclose said.
“It seems that all a sudden, the community has taken this great interest in our hospital,” he added. “If you’ve been reading the paper since about 2010, 2011, we have been on a downslide with our finances here. There has been article after article in the newspaper since 2010 regarding this.”
Groseclose explained that hospital officials went to the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners in 2011, seeking assistance in refinancing its bond.
“The number one thing, at that point in time, was possibly not just turn things around, but ask for their assistance,” he said. “What we got from them was an understanding that yes, we are responsible for the good of the hospital, and financially, we should be responsible, but we don’t have any money. We can’t help you.”
Groseclose said hospital officials had tried several times to refinance their bond.
“What you can do to help is to take an interest in your hospital,” he stressed.
Tripper Cook was another resident who asked a question.
“I am not a fan of Navicent (Health Systems),” Cook said. “I come from Macon, lived there most of my life.”
Navicent is the management firm that now manages ORMC.
Cook asked whether or not hospital board officials would allow for the financial books to be opened, and offer transparency to the public, as well as officials of this community. He said he believed that someone might come up with a better organization than Navicent to support the local community hospital.
“Would you allow your books to be examined by other potential investors,” Cook questioned.
“I can’t answer that question exactly,” Groseclose said. “I can get back with you on that question. I will tell you that our financial reporting that we receive every month is a matter of public record. It’s open to you, today.”
Everything that has been done up to this point by local hospital officials, as well as board members, and the management team of Navicent has been done in an attempt to save ORMC, he said.
Prior to the executive session ending, Dr. Wes King, one of several staff physicians who attended the meeting, passed out copies of comments he made about the hospital to those in attendance.
“In recent weeks, Milledgeville physicians have become aware that Navicent plans to cut patient bed capacity at ORMC, and to reduce services, and specialists offered by the hospital,” King said. “Such moves would do an unconscionable disservice to the citizens of Baldwin County, who count on our community hospital to meet our medical needs. We must act now to preserve and strengthen ORMC.”