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Parkland’s Private Meetings Raising Questions On Hospital Budget

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Problems with taxpayer funded Parkland Hospital remain shrouded in secrecy.  That’s because many of the meetings to discuss how to fix the problems are happening behind closed doors, and that includes an emergency board meeting Wednesday.

At stake is nearly half of Parkland’s annual budget, which could be lost if it doesn’t fix things by Friday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid did a private audit in July but won’t tell the public what the problems at Parkland are until the hospital offers fixes, which are what its board was discussing Wednesday.

“Under the law we are able to hold certain meetings in executive session,” says Dr. Lauren McDonald of the Parkland board, which could operate publicly on the issue but opts not to.  “We received recommendations from our attorneys about how to do certain things, we discuss personnel issues, so all of those things allow us to operate in attorney-client privilege, in executive session.”

Fallout from the CMS audit has triggered criticism of Parkland’s CEO, Dr. Ron Anderson, including a county commissioner who suggests it may be time for change at the top.

County Judge Clay Jenkins wants to stay above the fray. “I’m not weighing in on that, I’m saying all options are on the table, we’ve got to look at the evidence we’ve got to look at how we got into the mess we’re in now.  And we’ve got to do what’s necessary to fix it.”

“I would be insincere if I said if it didn’t bother me,” Dr. Anderson told CBS 11 News.  He adds he realizes he serves at the board’s pleasure.

“The last board asked me to stay until the building program is over, but this board is a new board and it’s their decision.  So I work at their pleasure.”  But he adds, “I’m still committed to Parkland and getting these problems solved and that’s the thing I need to focus on instead of worrying about that.”

Dr. McDonald says the Parkland staff will have its response ready for CMS by Friday, and make it available to the public shortly thereafter.  Everyone connected with Parkland insists the problems – whatever they are – can be fixed in time.

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