Indigent Care Stakeholder Work Team releases long-awaited report

Dexter Samuels, Ph.D., Meharry senior vice president for Student Affairs and executive director with Meharry President Dr. James E.K. Hildreth announce the completion of the Indigent Care Stakeholder Work Team report.

Meharry Medical College convened a stakeholder work team to determine an integrated health model for indigent care in the city of Nashville on December 18, 2017.

The creation of the team was in response to former Mayor Megan Barry’s announcement of changes at Nashville General Hospital that would prompt the closure of inpatient services.

At the time, Meharry President Dr. James E.K. Hildreth volunteered to form the work team because he “felt Meharry had a duty and was uniquely qualified to lead the conversation about the future of indigent care in Nashville because of the college’s long-established mission to serve the underserved.”

Fast-forward a year and a couple months, and Barry is no longer in office, and the viability and benefits of Nashville General are no longer in question.

Earlier this month, the Indigent Care Stakeholder Work Team unveiled their vision for a new, collaborative safety net system of health care for Nashville’s most vulnerable citizens.

The report culminates a 14-month-long process during which key stakeholders in indigent care re-imagined how the city of Nashville cares for its uninsured and underinsured residents and places the needs of patients at center.

“This is a historic day for the city of Nashville, especially for the most vulnerable among us,” said Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, president/CEO of Meharry Medical College. “Today we unveil a shared vision that for the first time involves Nashville’s entire health care community in the care of the underserved. At the center of the system is the patient, who will become the focus of our renewed energy, effort and responsibility. As a city today, we resolve to leave no one behind.”

Representatives of Nashville General Hospital, Nashville’s private hospital systems, the City Council, and community and church leaders were invited to participate in the group. By design, each team member approached indigent care from a unique perspective, yet all shared the same goal: to deliver the best possible care to those in Nashville who need it most.

For 14 months, the Stakeholder Work Team researched best practices for indigent care throughout the U.S.; studied funding models in other cities; heard input from local, regional and national experts on care delivery; and held listening sessions to better understand the real concerns of the community.

“As a Stakeholder Work Team, we believe that Nashville must become a healthy city for all who live and work here, regardless of zip code or ability to pay,” said Richard Manson, a member of the Stakeholder Work Team and the Nashville General Hospital Authority. “We believe the patient must be the priority and center of that care. With this new vision, the city of Nashville is now on our way to providing high quality, accessible health care to those most in need.”

In response to the release of the report, the Metropolitan Hospital Authority released the following statement:
“We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of Meharry Medical College and the Stakeholder Team to provide healthcare for the indigent population of Nashville. Nashville General Hospital provides care to all Nashvillians through our integrated healthcare delivery system. As the city’s original community hospital, Nashville General Hospital remains committed to ensuring that, together with Meharry Medical College and other physician providers, we continue to provide the highest quality of health care to the citizens of Nashville and Davidson County in the most cost-efficient manner.

During the last four years, the Hospital Authority Board and our talented leadership team have been diligently achieving the hospital’s greatest financial stability in 25 years while providing critical clinical services and care. This is evidenced in the success of our November 2018 Metro Audit, 2018 Joint Commission survey, Silver-level accreditation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, and National Committee for Quality Assurance Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition. As a reminder, in last year’s Vanderbilt poll released by the Tennessean, an overwhelming majority of Nashville residents supported the hospital. John Greer, a political science professor who oversaw the poll was quoted as saying: “The big takeaway is this community broadly supports Nashville General.” Core to our mission and vision, Nashville General Hospital is committed to continue its role in the local healthcare ecosystem and provide care to all who walk through its doors, regardless of ability to pay.

“We wish to thank Mr. Richard Manson and Ms. Dawn Alexander who served as Hospital Authority Board and Nashville General Hospital leadership representatives. At this time, the Hospital Authority Board is awaiting the opportunity to have a formal review of the Stakeholder proposal.”

The 84-page report can be accessed from <home.mmc.edu>.