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Parkland CEO Defends Not Releasing Taxpayer-Funded Performance Report

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
Bud is the most veteran reporter at CBS 11 News with 42 years in m...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Parkland Hospital’s CEO Thursday defended the hospital board’s decision not to release a taxpayer-funded performance report from the New York health firm Alvarez & Marsal.   “We don’t have anything to hide,” Dr. Thomas Royer told CBS 11 Thursday.

Nonetheless, Dr. Royer agrees with the decision by Parkland’s Board and attorneys to withhold the report on its performance.   “Based on the legal advice the board received, I support the decision that they made,” he said.    The report is part of a $7 million deal Parkland has with the firm to monitor the hospital and keep it in the good graces of a federal agency that threatened to strip Parkland’s Medicare funding last year.  At that time, the hospital was found deficient in several areas by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) including patient tracking and services.

This week’s report was an interim evaluation of progress supposedly made since then.  “It’s totally transparent inside the organization and we’re working on corrective action plans based on findings actually that began reporting in early December up until the middle part of January.”  He added, “And so the decision not to release it was not related to the content of the report.”

He continued, “The board for the last 6-8 weeks had really started to—based on input they were getting from legal and the understanding this report would be confidential and treated as a quality assurance document—so everyone could see what they were seeing, get input and report it, just as you do with quality assurance activities in a hospital.”

He calls the report so technically complex that the public could draw the wrong conclusions and open the hospital up to lawsuits.  “And the advice we got is that those findings could be misinterpreted perhaps, or could be utilized by other people—we know we have pending lawsuits out there, and so making sure that we are on a balanced playing ground  that this report— the release of it—would not be helpful to the organization and to the use of our dollars.  That was the advice we got.   Legally it was a protected document under the quality assurance laws and regulations.”

When asked if an attorney wouldn’t likely demand the report from a judge and get it anyway, Rover said: “The decision of the board was that they would cross those bridges or address those issues as they come about.”

And when asked if there a vote on whether to release the report, he added: “Certainly it was the consensus of the board not to release it.”

Dr. Royer says it’s particularly telling that despite negative publicity in recent months that none of the foundations which support Parkland have talked about withdrawing any of that support.  He says, while not going into specifics, the report looks at 17-areas that may need fixes… such as the size of neo-natal rooms, an issue that cannot be addressed in the current facility.

“There are some findings in the A&M and CMS reports that we can’t correct.   They would like our neo-natal rooms to be bigger, they would like the space between each neo-natal baby—and we have 65-80 of those in our facility every day— to be a little more infection control and stuff.   We can’t make that happen in this facility,” he told CBS 11.

But he called the hospital a place where “wonderful things” are occurring, and he called health care sacred.  “In any organization of this size—even on our most perfect day—with the volumes we see, we’re going to have issues.”   He continued, “They are a lot less than nine weeks ago when I came, and they will be a lot less in six months when you come back to do another interview.”

He emphasized the hospital has made corrections and remains on schedule to move into a new building in 2014.

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