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Rescue Plan for Jackson Memorial Hospital

Despite long hours or debate, the Miami-Dade Commission granted Jackson Health System the $80 million it asked for to help fix its financial problems.

Melissa Arteaga Marti | PODER Magazine

Jackson Hospital CEO and President, Dr. Eneida Roldan, speaking to commissioner Thursday.

STORY TOOLS

Miami-Dade commissioners held a special board meeting Thursday to vote on a rescue plan to help the financially strapped Jackson Memorial Hospital.

As a result, the health system and Service Employees International reached a “handshake” agreement that should help improve the hospital’s financial meltdown. While the agreements details were not announced at the commission meeting, the “handshake”' deal was allegedly made final late Wednesday and involves “incentive-based ways” of helping the hospital.

The county also said it will advance the $80 million that Jackson Hospital CEO and President, Dr. Eneida Roldan, had requested. The aid should help Jackson through a cash shortage in April.

County Manager George Burgess told Dr. Roldan and her fellow chairmen at the meeting that Jackson would be able to keep the money through the end of the fiscal year, September 30, as an advance on sales tax and property tax proceeds.

The Commission also decided that instead of dismantling the Public Health Trust, it would place it under more direct supervision of the county manager.

JMH, the nation's third largest public hospital in the country, is facing a $230 million budget deficit and is on track to be out of money in a matter of weeks, officials said. That means Jackson does not have enough liquid cash to pay any of their current employees.

County commissioners considered several proposals in Thursday’s Special Board of County Commissioners Meeting, including appointing a new governing board to determine the best way to keep the hospital's doors open and their employees paid.

“Save Jackson”

A number of hospital doctors, nurses and patients staged a "Save Jackson" rally right before the board meeting took place at the Stephen P. Clark Center.

Despite the rally and a number of meeting attendees wearing purple “Save Jackson” t-shirts, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez reiterated his previous thoughts on Jackson’s situation.

The Mayor believes Dr. Roldan and the Public Health Trust Chairman, John Copeland, have not done enough to keep the hospital open. He also questioned why a proposal to close Jackson North and South was not presented to county commissioners at their meeting last Wednesday.

“You can recommend all you want, but if ultimately it doesn't get approved, you're just peddling wheels-- you're wasting time,” said Alvarez. “Time is of the essence, time is money.”

Supply and Demand

Medicaid's top official in Florida said he plans to work to get Jackson's claims paid in 15 days -- rather than the 30-day window that is now the norm.

The Miami-Dade County Legislative Delegation made the request to Medicaid during a meeting with Dr. Roldan during last week’s discussions.

While Medicaid is willing to help the bleeding health system, Johnson & Johnson, a large medical supplier, has already threatened to stop delivering supplies if they were not paid soon. Jackson said they are close to working out a deal with the company to keep supply cabinets stocked.

Patient Care Remains Strong

Jackson Health System is, and will continue to be, committed to providing the highest quality of medical care for all of its patients, Dr. Roldan reiterated Thursday afternoon.

Although the hospital is in the midst of a financial crisis, Dr. Roldan took the time to remind community officials and all patients – past, current and future – that Jackson’s hospitals, emergency rooms and clinics throughout Miami-Dade County are open for business.

“Each day at Jackson, our doctors and nurses brings babies into this world, save lives in our trauma center and bring hope to hundreds of people,” She said. “We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, continuing to provide the incredible health care that has made Jackson into one of the best medical centers in the world.”

She called on the community for its continued support and to continue to rally behind the system by choosing Jackson for surgical procedures and recommending Jackson to friends and family.

“We will continue to meet in the coming days, as often as necessary, with our ultimate goal in mind – ensuring a sustainable future for Jackson Health System and saving the health of our community,” Dr. Roldan said.

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