Mayor Karl Dean has gotten behind efforts to seek federal stimulus dollars for Metro General Hospital at Meharry.
Dean’s administration said this week it has joined Hospital Authority CEO Dr. Reginald Coopwood in asking leaders at the federal level to help seek federal stimulus dollars for the city’s indigent hospital.
“Dr. Coopwood assured the mayor during the Hospital Authority’s budget hearing that everything possible is being done to seek federal stimulus funds for Metro General,” Dean’s press secretary Janel Lacy said. “Separately, our office has reached out to [Sen. Bob Corker and Sen. Lamar Alexander] to request their assistance in this effort.”
Dean’s request for the help of Tennessee’s U.S. senators coincides with the formation of the faith-based group, Nashvillians for Metro General. The group is comprised of more than 75 Nashville clergy representing several denominations.
“Nashville clergy have stepped forward on behalf of Metro General Hospital because we believe health care is a matter of justice and morality,” the faith leaders stated in their April 7 letter to Dean. “We believe that our city has a moral obligation to operate a fully accredited public safety net hospital to meet the acute health care needs of uninsured and underserved Nashvillians.”
Dean has sought a consultant to study how Metro can offer health care to the indigent more efficiently and at a lower cost.
Earlier this year when the Hospital Authority revealed that it was facing an anticipated budget shortfall, Dean drew a line in the sand and said there would be no emergency line of credit as there had been in years past. In response, the Hospital Authority eliminated 33 positions, instituted mandatory pay cuts and other cost-saving measures.
“It’s also important to note that Dr. Coopwood clearly stated during the budget hearing [with the mayor’s office last week] that the cuts recently made to Metro General to compensate for budget overruns have in no way affected the level of service the hospital provides to Nashville’s indigent and uninsured,” Lacy said.
At-large Councilman Jerry Maynard, an outspoken supporter of General Hospital, was complimentary of Dean’s efforts.
“It’s important for the community and our leaders to pull together in these difficult times of layoffs, higher unemployment, with teachers and professionals and others losing their jobs, that we convey with a unified voice that Nashville seeks federal funds to provide access to health care to all of our citizens,” Maynard said. “And I stand with the mayor and the leaders of our community to seek additional federal funds and be successful in that attempt just as Shelby County and its mayor [A.C. Wharton] were successful in attaining additional federal funds for its safety net hospital.”