Saturday, September 17, 2016

an american healthcare story

Let me preface this piece with the statement that everything referenced here is history that can be fact checked.  I woke this morning to a message from a friend stating that "rumor has it" that the mothership of my workplace is in the market to sell their company (ies) because of insurmountable debt.  I offer up nothing more than objective facts on the paper trail of how we got from there to here.  There have been both very good and very bad leaders at every stop along the way and it's not my intent to criticize any one company or management style.  I do, however, have a huge problem with hedge fund managers determining the future of American healthcare.

 In 1997 Wayne Smith became CEO of Community Health Systems as a pioneer in expanding the portfolio of investors by purchasing rural hospitals such as ours.  We were part of the West Tennessee seven that was purchased by Methodist Healthcare ( we know what a miracle you are ) in the 80s from various county governments.  Following a lengthy and heated community conversation about buyers for our facility, MHS paid 10M over market value for a facility that was 30 years old and in need of massive repair and upgrade.  We, and the other six, were to serve as feeders to their Memphis market which included Central, North and Germantown.  They grew the West Tennessee Regional market and continued to feed until the company's vision changed to transplant center and a partnership with UT Memphis.  That is when they summarily sold us all to the highest bidder which was CHS.  We lost half of our accrued sick time in the sale.  In spite of the uneasy feeling of being "divested", we continued to thrive as a leader in rural medicine. 

In 2013 I was flipping through personal email and found one for investors of CHS announcing intent to merge with (also) Franklin based Healthcare Management Associates.  There was about 8 billion involved in this acquisiton which followed others involving Tenet, Triad etc.  In the end there were over two hundred acute care facilities making them owners of THE largest number of beds for that purpose for profit and thousands of clinics.  There was a hedge fund manager whose name escapes me who engineered the whole transaction and then bailed earlier this year when the stock started collapsing. It went from 60ish to 10 in a matter of months.  The announcement of possible sale activity bumped the share price up a couple of bucks yesterday and now there's a Chinese billionaire as 10% shareholder.

Over the past year there have been spinoffs like Quorum and Tennova.  Again, I offer no opinion other than those which you know I have if we've ever talked.  I am not about to get dooced, thank you very much. Medicine, particularly wellness benefits and preventive care, are paramount to keeping healthcare costs down and minimizing human suffering.  It's not all about the diagnosing and curing.  Sometimes, it's about the patient's overall health.

I woke up to thunder and lightning but rolled right on over and snoozed some more until my alarm went off at 5.  It was kinda' sorta' raining when I left but nothing big so I took off down the hill in front of the dairy barn going about 50 and hit water halfway up that ran to Samaria Bend!  Thankfully the engine didn't stall.  

The corn is gone thank you lord, and I can see again.  Larry came by for a minute and we watched the dogs wandering to and fro south on the lane checking out every little thing along the way.  Life is good.  

Always remember who you are ~

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