Wednesday, August 6, 2008

LICH statement

Murray Adams, our former president and a former trustee of LICH, spoke at today's rally on behalf of the CHA. Here is his statement:
I am Murray Adams. Until recently, I was president of the Cobble Hill Association, and I have been asked to speak on the Association’s behalf. For about 18 years I was a trustee of Long Island College Hospital, including being Chairman of its Board for two and a half years before I became its in-house lawyer in 1991. I retired in 1998 and have held no position with the Hospital since, but as you can imagine I have a strong concern that LICH survive and prosper for the next 150 years as it has for the past 150, and a strong belief that it can and will do so.

My advice to Dominick Stanzione as he begins the restructuring of LICH is that his first priority must be to reverse the public perception that LICH will continue to shrink, may be forced to close, and suffers from inadequate services and antiquated equipment. Unfortunately, the recent closing of four off-site clinics and the so-called "Doctors' Committee"'s repeated statements that Continuum has been siphoning money from LICH and wishes to close the hospital have greatly increased this perception. The inevitable result has been a large decline in patient volume, and a flight of doctors to other hospitals. In order to survive, as Messrs. Stanzione and Brezenoff have indicated, increasing patient volume is essential.

To do this, Continuum must be willing to grant to Mr. Stanzione a substantial marketing budget and that he must advertise LICH extensively in the local Brooklyn papers and must market to the surrounding community its many excellent services, such as its newly equipped, state-of-the-art radiology department and its new Women’s Center. Neither LICH nor Continuum has ever put together and followed through with an effective advertising and marketing program to show its community the many fine medical programs LICH operates.

In addition, it is important for Mr. Stanzione to meet with the top officials of Downstate Medical school, of which LICH is the principal teaching affiliate, and see what can be done to publicize the many academic programs run by Downstate, as well as LICH, at LICH and get Downstate’s help in publicizing LICH’s importance as a teaching institution. Many of LICH's departments and their teaching programs are top-notch, and they need to be marketed as such.

Lastly, I do not see how Mr. Stanzione will be able to turn LICH around without controlling his own finances here at LICH. Rita Battles, until recently LICH’s President, once told me that if she hired her own accounting people and brought in a much simpler billing system than the Cadillac system that Continuum has developed for their 1500-bed hospitals, she could save LICH at least $1 million per month. This is nearly as much as Continuum is proposing to save by closing OBGYN. Maybe Rita was wrong, but I and many others believe LICH is unfairly burdened by Continuum’s present method of allocating overhead costs among its member hospitals.

In the end, the key to the restoration of LICH’s fiscal health is to restore and then increase the volume of patients coming through LICH. This will require enlarging the medical staff, but until the perception that LICH is a troubled hospital which is about to close is changed, it will be almost impossible to increase patient volume or to recruit more good doctors to LICH.

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