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Old Posted Mar 2, 2010, 7:42 PM
Johnny Ryall Johnny Ryall is offline
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MED Woes Could Be Solved With New Hospital
Memphis Daily News

The annual funding crisis at The Regional Medical Center serves as a reminder of how little politics in Memphis has changed despite all of the claims of new leadership. What has changed is the problem at the long-neglected MED is no longer once a year. It has now become a year-round problem that lacks the certainty of money running short just toward the end of the fiscal year. As Deputy Gov. John Morgan has noted, some fiscal and physical problems are tied together in the aging facility, which for years has never been more than a collection of pieces added onto one another at different times. But even the thought of a new MED seems too “pie in the sky” given the hospital’s struggle just to survive another day. Begging for public money from the same taxpayers who already fund The MED not only won’t save it, it might do more harm than good. It does not instill confidence in an institution unknown to most of us in its scope and excellence until the moments we dread the most for ourselves and those we love.

Those who lead and fund The MED must convince the public it will be run efficiently. The goal of efficiency is more than a question of whether the leadership wants to run it the right way. The question is, can The MED as currently configured run efficiently even with the best leadership available and the highest motives? We don’t believe it can. We call for a phased dissolution of The MED to be replaced by a new safety net hospital/trauma center. The successor to The MED will take some time to build and there should be ample time to plan it before the first shovelful of dirt is ever turned.

Some of the considerations in planning are:
The use of federal Homeland Security money to build a modern, safe structure.
A recognition by the state of Tennessee starting with the next governor that from now through at least the first five years of the new institution, The MED and its successor must get back all of the money they give the state via federal money for uncompensated care.
As much as possible an iron clad agreement with Mississippi and Arkansas for access to the new facility’s ER by their citizens who cannot pay.
The threat of litigation on the two prior points as a last resort.
A paring of some of the parts of The MED that are simply there because they have always been there.
A recognition that the trauma center and safety net function of the emergency room are the core mission.
A cleaner line of local authority and funding responsibility that rests with Shelby County government until or unless local government consolidation happens.
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