Don’t let hospital plans fail

Published 8:35 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sometimes the best-laid plans go to waste.

Almost a year and a half ago, a group of 14 local physicians got together to form a plan that faced tremendous odds against its success.

The plan was to buy a business that had sunk millions of dollars in debt and a medical facility days away from closing its doors for good. Even so, the investors behind what is now Troy Doctors Hospital, LLC took their chances.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

It wasn’t a move Dr. Mickey DiChiara said the group necessarily wanted to make. Instead, he said it was a move that would serve the residents of Pike County the best.

And it was a move that to this day has kept the hospital doors open in the city of Troy.

Three years ago, when Attentus Health Care owned the hospital, I made a visit to the Troy Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Room. While of course, trips to the ER are never pleasant experiences, this one was even worse.

Once there, I was greeted by an employee who told me to sit and wait for 10 minutes. As I continued struggling to breathe during an asthma attack, she finished her conversation on the phone. And from there, the experience only continued to go downhill.

But, if what owners say has happened in the last year and a half is true, then that experience would likely not be repeated again.

Now CEO Gil McKenzie said the hospital has a new emergency room group running the facility, which has decreased wait time from an average of seven hours down to less than two.

In addition, he said the group has brought in several new physicians and upgraded some of the health care equipment.

I haven’t had personal experience with the hospital’s care recently. But I believe is the group running the hospital has the right goal in mind — us.

That being said, I do not praise every step the doctors have taken since their start. The efforts to secure hospital ownership have been slow, perhaps not to the fault entirely of the doctors.

Regardless of who or what is to blame, residents of Pike County need more surety in their only source of emergency health care at home.

Residents should not wonder whether the hospital will be in the hands of private owners or if taxpayers will essentially be funding it themselves, should the city of Troy have to take over control.

I believe the efforts made in the last year and a half have not been done in vain and have made great progress toward making TRMC the facility it should be. I believe the plans for the future — to recruit new specialty physicians, to continue to improve facilities and to establish long-term management — are solid and if carried through would be great for our community.

But, I also believe these plans are only as strong as whomever stands behind them. I’m not sure exactly what it takes to secure financing for such an endeavor, but I urge doctors to move quickly to bring this back-and-forth with the city and the banks to rest for good.

Sure, the best-laid plans often go to waste. But, I hope that’s not the case this time.

Holli Keaton is news editor of The Messenger. She can be reached at