Metro General Hospital has decided to defiantly resist closure, which was proposed by Mayor Megan Barry last week. In the meantime, the facility is trying to keep nurses, doctors and administrators from abandoning ship.
Almost as soon as Meharry Medical College announced its affiliation would change to HCA's Southern Hills Medical Center, nurses at Metro General started getting emails from the for-profit hospital chain.
From email sent by HCA to Metro General nurses asking them to apply for jobs. pic.twitter.com/Ct9qnXxU61
— Blake Farmer (@flakebarmer) November 18, 2017
HCA extended invitations for nurses to consider coming aboard, pointing out that the mayor had already made public a plan to close down inpatient care at the city-funded safety net hospital.
"We're asking that other institutions at other employers really be respectful of our employees and their mission and what they really have chosen to do with their professional lives," Hospital Authority board chairwoman Jan Brandes said Friday night following a tense emergency board meeting that drew an overflow crowd.
Brandes says Metro General has loyal employees, but that she understands why some of the 180 staffers might consider other offers.
But many of those who spoke at the board meeting described feeling disgust about recruiting efforts.
"I'm not leaving. I will be here until these doors shut — until these doors shut," registered nurse Ann Still said. "And I pray to God that does not happen."
If not a miracle, Metro General will at least need another bailout to even consider a long-term future. The facility faces "a hard deadline of January 30," according to Brandes, who says the facility will have to have a mid-year infusion of cash to stay afloat. A hearing before the Metro Council is scheduled for Monday.
Pastor stands up to say he was born at Metro General. pic.twitter.com/qp9lcky9In
— Blake Farmer (@flakebarmer) November 17, 2017
Board members describe being blindsided by the announcement to close the hospital, which piggybacked on Meharry's decision last week to move its affiliation because of low patient volume at Metro General. The panel welcomed public input, including from pastor Sonnye Dixon, who said he felt guilty for how often he's gone elsewhere for care while the hospital where he was born struggled to attract paying patients like himself.
While the hospital board is resisting closure, trustee Frank Stevenson may be the most open to change after seeing years of failure to reach a sustainable business model.
"We're going to have to do some things differently, absolutely," he said. "The mayor has made it very clear that we cannot continue to operate the hospital the way it is. We've got to get the funding. We've got to change the model. But we've got to change something. Certainly, whatever we're doing now is going to change in some ways."