In hosting town hall meetings the past two weeks, Nashville’s Metro General Hospital has been hearing testimonials from patients. But hospital leaders have also used the moment to tout reforms — and they believe they can attract new patients who choose to be there, instead of as a last resort.
So while customer service has been a major focus, other changes go to the core of how to rebuild a hospital that went through a wave of staff departures and that was nearly disbanded.
“For the first time since 2010, we have a full complement of leadership in the hospital,” hospital Director Joseph Webb said at a recent meeting.
He also took on a bit of myth-busting. He bristled at the amount of attention he got for requesting $10 million in emergency city funding. He said that money wasn’t only in response to negative findings by inspectors.
Large portions are for proactive reforms, he said, to make the hospital more financially stable.
For example, Metro General created a program for the chronic patients who most often go to the emergency room when they don’t need to. A group of just 25 patients accounted for more than half of ER costs during a recent study.
That group now gets around-the-clock access to a doctor, and a case manager.
Webb also has ideas to draw more people who can pay, to balance out those who can’t. As it stands, the hospital only collects 17 percent of what it bills.
“We’ve already seen over the last year, an improvement in our payer mix,” Webb said. “People will come to quality if they trust that quality and they know that it’s quality. They’ll come.”
The message seemed targeted at town hall attendee Kimberly Watts. She goes to St. Thomas at Midtown, but listened with an open mind about converting.
“I don’t want to do that just because I am a product of the North Nashville area. I just won’t do it for that particular reason. I have to be convinced that I am going to receive the quality care,” she said.
“I’m not there yet. But I’m listening.”
She didn’t say that directly to Webb, but it seemed like the kind of consideration he was seeking while outlining the future of his hospital.