Friday, October 14, 2016

EDITORIAL >> North Metro limps forward

Financial and administrative problems continue to hamstring North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville.

Tax bills have piled up and Medicare reimbursements have been slashed due to high infection rates. Last year, the hospital lost about $3.5 million, placing it among the least profitable medical centers in Arkansas.

CEO Mike Randall will tell his side of the issue Wednesday.

Since the city sold the former municipal hospital to Allegiance Health Management of Shreveport, La., the hospital’s problems seem to have only gotten worse.

They’ve invested little in the facility, scared away most medical professionals from joining its team and had a stream of criticism from its top administrators and employees.

It takes a lot of money, talent and generous benefactors to run a hospital. To get there, Allegiance Health Management needs to make a public-outreach effort to show Jacksonville-area residents that it cares deeply for the community and acknowledge North Metro’s shortcomings, while presenting a plan for the future.

A few unimpressive TV commercials is not enough to address concerns about the hospital’s viability, patient-care quality and a host of financial red flags.

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and city leaders should host a town-hall meeting with Rock Bordelon and Dom Cameron, the two Allegiance Health executives who own the hospital, and North Metro administrators. The community should have a chance to ask some questions, meet the people in charge of the hospital and be reassured that there is a long-term plan for its future.

It’s worrying that Allegiance could bail out on the community if its financial problems become too big. It won’t be able to stagger on forever.