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The First Goal of HCA


From August 2000 until May 2006, I was the Chief Financial Officer at Meadows Regional Medical Center having been recruited to assist in the financial and operational turnaround. During my tenure, a number of quality physicians were recruited who were first and foremost dedicated to quality medicine. External controls including declining reimbursement rates were factors in their relocating from urban settings to Vidalia.

Now, Meadows has been sold to a forprofit healthcare organization, Hospital Corporation of America, a/k/a HCA for which I also was retained as an interim hospital CFO in the late 1990s.

In my opinion, HCA’s first and foremost goal is protection of their publicly stated stock values and stockholder return and not a commitment to the medical services of the communities wherein they own-manage facilities. Again, in my opinion, they may publicly promote quality services, but that is not the underlying first goal.

In a Chattanooga Times Free Press article last week, which I have forwarded to The Advance, the correspondent, Jan Hancock of Kaiser Health News, writes of new creative fees to enhance revenues. The most significant of these is a “trauma activation fee” of $17,000 at Chippenham Hospital in Richmond, VA. In my opinion, your service area can expect more of the same.

I have great compassion for the residents of the Meadows medical service area and their expectations, however and in my opinion, the future will be much different and much more expensive than in the past.

The late John McNames, Chair of the Meadows Alliance Board, had a vision for Meadows’ future that did not include a transaction such as the one that has taken place. He was very, very committed to Vidalia and the surrounding service area. Granted, time changes many factors, but had he survived, I do not believe control would have been ceded to a for-profit organization.

Ron Peterson, CPA Chattanooga, TN

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