I’m writing this time as a medical student, friend and (temporary) Nasvhillian.
You may or may not have heard about the pending alterations to Nashville General Hospital, (which is staffed by Meharry Medical College), so here’s the skinny,
Around 1996, NGH, Nashville’s only safety-net hospital was burdened by far more patients than it’s limited medical staff could handle. Simultaneously, Meharry had far too few patients for effective student training. The agreement made at that time has successfully staffed NGH with Meharry Physicians and students with the benefit of a city subsidy of $43 million annually for hospital costs.
The unfortunate reality however is that the hospital is running at a $8-12 million shortfall/loss annually, and the City is tired of it. They hired a consulting firm (known for their skill in closing down hospitals) to “evaluate” the hospital and provide a recommendation. For their 1Million dollar fee, the company provided a financial assessment only, ignoring the social aspects of cost such as “quality/years of life lost” and the impact to the medical school attached to the hospital. Their recommendation was in essence to turn the hospital into a day clinic – providing ambulatory services alone.
While the decision would effectively force 400 Meharrians to rotate at another (possibly non-TN) hospital, more concerning is the effect it would have on Nashville’s poor/underserved populous – 25% of whom are cared-for at NGH.
While I don’t believe the hospital should be kept as is – I expect every option to be considered before a palliative approach is adopted. Meharry provides academic-level care to the poor, with a focus on education. We’re just beginning to see how such a world without that would look.
If you wouldn’t mind – join me in signing a student-created petition written to the Nashville Mayor. We only need so many more signatures (to reach the 3,014 required for a committee-level referendum to be called) and I’d love it if you’d be one of them.
(the links for more details about the issue can be found on the site)