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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Nash Resigns As NARH President

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dr. Bruce Nash spoke during an April e-health collaborative news conference. Nash has resigned as president of North Adams Regional Hospital.
North Adams – Dr. Bruce Nash has resigned as president of the North Adams Regional Hospital.

The news was delivered via a prepared statement issued by hospital officials and Berkshire Healthcare Chief Executive Officer John C.J. Cronin.

NARH President Post Eliminated

In a letter to hospital employees, Nash said that his resignation stemmed from a hospital restructuring that will “not only achieve expense reduction but also bring a different set of skills to the role [of hospital administrator] to focus on the effort to restore financial health to NARH.”

The job of “president” is being eliminated in favor of a “chief operating officer,” according to the statement. A “COO” will focus specifically on the hospital’s internal operations, according to the statement.

Hospital officials declined further comment on the resignation.

Nash accepted the hospital president post in 2002 after serving as the NBH vice-president of medical affairs for just over two years. Northern Berkshire Healthcare is the parent company of the hospital and the Sweet Brook Care Centers, which provide long-term health care, Sweetwood Continuing Care Community, which offers senior citizen housing, the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Northern Berkshire, and the REACH Community Health Foundation, which oversees a number of community health initiatives.

Restructuring Effort Underway

The resignation comes on the heels of several administrative job cuts this year. A NBH vice-president of finance job held by Suzanne Stinson, a VNA and Hospice president post held by Patricia Campbell and a NBH vice-president of marketing and development job held by Win Brown were all eliminated earlier this year. Additional jobs were cut in May, and about four years ago, significant nursing staff reductions were implemented.

The hospital is in the midst of a major restructuring effort meant to improve its’ financial status. Cronin has long stated that state Medicaid and federal Medicare reimbursements fall far short of covering patient care costs and because a significant number of Northern Berkshire residents rely on the state and federal health plans for services, the hospital is hard hit by the low reimbursements.

The hospital also provides care for numerous uninsured individuals, and every cost associated with providing health care has jumped to new highs year after year. Hospitals nation-wide are grappling with significant financial issues, Cronin has said.

The hospital has posted financial losses since 2000, with $1.7 million in operational “red ink” in fiscal year 2004 and an expected $2.6 million in operating losses for fiscal year 2005. Fitch Ratings reduced the NBH bond status from “BB-plus” to “BB” in May and in June, Standard and Poor’s lowered their bond rating for the entity.

As the hospital and the NBH struggle to restore financial stability to hospital operations, the entities are also working to improve the hospital building and add or enhance the services offered there. Both undertakings are essential to the future of the NBH and the hospital.

Evolution

Major renovations to the hospital’s maternity, medical/surgical, critical care, and emergency units are underway, as are changes to the hospital lobby. The project costs have reached about $23 million and the revenues are being raised through a $12 million CARE Campaign that produced about $10 million in private contributions.

About $13 million is being funded through bonds issued by the hospital last fall, and Cronin has emphasized that the bonds were issued at a “very favorable” interest rate. A public appeal was launched earlier this year to raise $2 million for a hospital endowment fund.

Earlier this year, the hospital and the surrounding Northern Berkshire medical community was chosen as one of three electronic medical records pilot program sites in the state. Dubbed “e-health,” the $50 million project was funded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts corporation and is overseen by the Massachusetts e-health Collaborative.

The hospital has also teamed up with Massachusetts General Hospital neurologists to offer stroke care through a telemedicine network that permits real-time evaluations of stroke patients at NARH by Mass.General physicians. A demonstration of the technology was presented to media outlets on June 9.

During a May interview and tour of the hospital renovation project, NARH Public Relations Director Paul Hopkins noted that the changing face of medicine has contributed to job cuts as well as hospital improvements. An increasing evolution from in-patient care to out-patient services such as day surgeries, magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] exams, and endoscopic procedures means updating or acquiring expensive medical equipment and shifting available resources to meet the ever-changing needs. And fiscal responsibility has become an urgent priority that is integral to the hospital and the community it serves.

Nash’s resignation and the elimination of a hospital president post is a consequence of the changes, Cronin stated in the prepared Aug. 9 statement.

“The action that we are taking today is another step in the continuing process of re-shaping Northern Berkshire Healthcare for the future,” Cronin said. “It is a process that will ultimately mean a stronger, viable system including all our [NBH] organizations.”

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net or at 802-823-9367.
Your Comments
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Dr. Nash is likely the victim of his own professional style, which in past contributed to the demise of Community Health Plan and Kaiser-Permanente in the region and also brought a new understanding of Mangled Care to the people of the Commonwealth.
from: Brian Scanlan, MDon: 05-15 00:00:00-2008


 
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