The Dimensions Healthcare Coup

If you lived in the District during the reign of our own Papa Doc Duvalier, Marion Barry, you saw how a municipal institutions were turned into self perpetuating swamps of patronage, graft, and corruption. City government agencies did not exist to provide services, rather they esisted to provide jobs which translated into campaign contributions, campaign workers, and votes for the Barry machine.

Nothing unusual in one respect, big city mayors have historically used patronage as a political tool. What was unusual about the District at that place and time was that there was no pretense of providing services.

The jury is still out on whether and to what degree Prince George’s County is heading in that direction under Jack Johnson.

Still more below the fold.

Trending: Red Maryland Radio #445: January 30, 2020

Right now we are being treated to the spectacle of a non-profit organization which runs several health care facilities in Prince George’s County suing the county government for the funds necessary to keep them in operation.

Dimensions Healthcare runs Prince George’s Hospital Center, Laurel Regional Hospital, Bowie Health Campus, Gladys Spellman Specialty Hospital and Nursing Center, and Larkin Chase Nursing and Rehabilitation Center making it the largest provider of health care services in Prince George’s County.

County Executive Jack Johnson alleges maladministration and says he will release the funding if four of the eleven board members are replaced and the method for selecting the board is changed. Johnson has two votes on the board now and the removal of four more members would give him six of the eleven votes.

On the surface there is no problem here. But when we scratch deeper it gets more suspicious.

Back in February a gentleman by the name of Corbett Price was brought in by the Prince George’s county council to examine the finances of Dimensions Healthcare.

Call him friend or foe of embattled health care systems, consultant Corbett Price is back where he intended to be years ago: overseeing the financials of Prince George’s County’s Dimensions Healthcare System.

County officials have dispatched him to perform a financial analysis of the ailing system — nearly two decades after the then-Dimensions board had relieved him from his CEO post there and barely four years after Price and his consulting firm submitted back-to-back bids to take over the system.

As a result, the county has raised a few eyebrows with its decision to designate Price, lauded as a heaven-sent businessman by some and condemned as an overly ambitious steamroller by others, to serve as watchdog over its debilitated hospital system.

An advocacy group is accusing the county of setting the system up in a no-win situation then blaming it for deficiencies.

The state offered a permanent solution to the problem in May which would have involved the state purchasing the real assets of Dimensions Healthcare and, in return, a state appointed authority would manage the system. The county balked an the proposal died.

The council rejected an eight-year, $329 million deal offered by the state on the final day of the legislative session last month. County Executive Jack B. Johnson announced last week that the county would pay “tens of millions” to keep the hospital open for the next 15 months — a stop gap measure to give the county time to reach a long-term deal with the state over the county’s future.

Dobson called the failure to reach an agreement during this year’s 90-day legislative session a “gross dereliction of duty” and said that the council is not reaching out to the O’Malley administration to try to come to some type of an agreement. “It’s crazy.”

Crazy indeed.

Unless the real agenda here is to gain control of the hospital system. If so, one has to wonder why anyone would want to control a hospital and clinic system that caters to a largely uninsured or under insured clientele. Two thoughts come to mind. the first is that there is money to be made by bringing the board directly under control of the county. The second is that it would provide a lot of jobs to the right people.

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