published Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Bill to overhaul Erlanger board put on hold

The Erlanger hospital campus is shown from South Crest Drive.
The Erlanger hospital campus is shown from South Crest Drive.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

NASHVILLE — Hamilton County lawmakers are delaying a bill to modernize Erlanger Health Systems' governance structure after consulting with executives from the public hospital.

"During our discussions with Erlanger over the past several weeks, we came to a mutual agreement that the focus now needs to be on the financial health of the hospital," House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said in a news release. "Erlanger serves a critical health care role in our region and maintaining that service is the first priority."

McCormick said the need to modify the 1976 Hospital Authority Act and the possibility of creating an operating board is secondary to curing Erlanger's financial ills.

Local lawmakers "are working with Erlanger to help resolve some of the funding needs," he said.

Kevin Spiegel, president and CEO of Erlanger, said in the release that "while we know that our governance model needs to be revised, our energy has to be on improved financial performance. Residents of our community have to know that they will receive the quality care that only Erlanger can provide."

The legislation would permit Erlanger's Hospital Authority board to consider the creation of a new not-for-profit operating board. Erlanger would maintain its public hospital status while being allowed to operate more efficiently.

"There will be an appropriate time to move forward with this legislation," said McCormick, "and that should be when Erlanger feels confident about its long-term financial health. "

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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