Saturday, May 22, 2010

The AG Says “No”

Yesterday, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office released a report that was published in response to the proposed affiliation between Dartmouth-Hitchcock Healthcare and the Catholic Medical Center. I wrote about it in this post which, for some of you reading this post, may serve as hopefully useful background for what I’m writing about here. Also, the Union Leader is covering it in this story, and their coverage throughout this process has been pretty thorough.

The summary of the report basically says that the proposed "affiliation” is unlawful for a couple of reasons, most notably that CMC would be drawn into a merger rather than an affiliation. If this is the case, then not only does CMC lose its identity, but it also loses its ability to manage its charitable trusts because all of its possessions: assets, liabilities, the trusts, even the furniture, become the property of DHMC.

One of the other things that was mentioned in the report was the compensation of CMC’s president, Alyson Pitman Giles. Based on the information in the report, she earns more than her counterparts in the area’s 3 other hospitals. And it isn’t a matter of her making a little bit more than the others; her 2009 earnings, if you include benefits, retirement funding, bonuses, etc., were nearly double that of her closest counterpart.

Personally, I’m not certain that this should be information included in a report like this, but someone opened the door. Because of that, perhaps it is something that should be considered in the overall view of this entire situation.

As I wrote in my December post, in the interest of full disclosure I worked for CMC for about 18 months, the last part of my association with Optima Health and the Manchester hospitals back in the days of that failed debacle. Part of the problem that caused the dissolution of Optima, besides some of the financial irregularities that were reported and discussed, was due to Catholic Church teaching regarding reproductive health. It was one of the huge bones of contention during that time. And I can’t help thinking that it will be with the DHMC effort as well.

My own opinion regarding this situation is pretty clear, I think. As far as the clinical aspects of this situation, what happens at the bedside probably won’t change very much, if at all. If this proposal were to go forward, I really don’t think a lot would be different. At higher levels, however, I think a lot would change. And I believe costs would go up.

As far as Alyson Pitman-Giles’ pay is concerned, I don’t care what she earns, as long as she does her job. In my view that is a sort of red herring that shouldn’t even be considered as part of this proposal. But if those who are in charge of this are so concerned about what she’s being paid, then deal with it under a separate investigation.

Personally, I don’t want to see another Optima scenario unfold. I’m not sure that Greater Manchester wants to have to put up with that again.

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