NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- “If we don’t get this right, people will die.”
That was the reaction from a Metro Council member to Mayor Barry’s plan to wind down inpatient care at Nashville’s indigent hospital.
In a letter released Thursday, Barry suggested that services at Nashville General should be reduced to outpatient care only. Barry noted that since 2005 Metro has had to spend more than half-a-billion dollars to keep General operating. She also says the hospital’s beds are now routinely less than half filled.
Council woman Tanaka (Tuh-NAY-kuh) Vercher says Barry’s announcement took a lot of people by surprise, including the hospital’s board. Vercher says deciding the charity hospital’s future will be a defining moment for Nashville.
“We have one of the largest, if not the largest, health care industry in the nation. An $84 billion health care industry here in the city, and we’re saying we’re wanting to do away fundamentally with our safety net hospital?”
The council woman notes that Mayor Barry is calling for the formation of an indigent Health Care fund to replace the services provided by General Hospital. As Chairperson for the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, Vercher wants details on just how that would work.
“What do we do as a city when the cost exceeds the amount of the funds available in the indigent fund? Where does that population go when there’s no money available?”
Vercher says Nashville General has a lot of stakeholders and Mayor Barry needs to get them all in a room to talk about the facility’s future.
Mayor Barry says she’s committed to doing just that.
Would you like to read Mayor Barry's letter?