CRMC, Crystal Run Talking About Future
Hospital Head Sees Pluses to Alliance
By Jeanne Sager
HARRIS January 26, 2007 It’s a surefire way to make the finance guy happy.
Talks with Crystal Run Healthcare have Catskill Regional Medical Center’s Chief Financial Officer Nick Lanza feeling “pretty optimistic.”
A Band-Aid on the relationship between the non-profit hospital and the private physicians group could mean as much as $3 million more in profits for CRMC.
For a hospital that had to layoff more than 70 employees and hire a turnaround firm to rescue it from financial turmoil, it’s a no-brainer.
And Lanza said there’s not much standing in the way of a return to the way things were prior to June 2006 when Crystal Run pulled its physicians and its patients, out of Catskill Regional.
At the time, Crystal Run’s CEO Dr. Hal Teitelbaum alleged numerous quality of care issues some of which were proven by a report released in the fall by the New York State Health Department.
Lanza has since said the pullout couldn’t have come at a worse time, citing the reduction in admissions and ambulatory surgeries performed by Crystal Run physicians at CRMC as a portion of the hospital’s financial undoing.
A reuniting of the two could mean as many as 300 or 400 additional patient admissions at the hospital, including a substantial number of expectant mothers in CRMC’s newly renovated obstetrics ward.
“I’m not going to say it’s a done deal,” Lanza said. “But we’re really getting down to the substantive issues here; both organizations are focused on solving these issues.
“We’re certainly on a much more consistent meeting pattern,” he added.
The two parties sat down to chat three weeks ago, and they’ll be face-to-face again Wednesday.
Lanza was quick to point out these meetings aren’t the first.
“I think there was a misconception in the community that nothing was happening,” he said. “We’ve actually been talking for four or five months now.”
So what’s changed?
The meetings have become more frequent, and although Lanza declined to reveal details of specific issues being hashed out, he admitted compromise is afoot.
“We’re a hospital, Crystal Run is a multi-specialty practice,” Lanza said. “We have to reconcile the issue of what can we do as a hospital, what can they do as a multi-speciality practice.
“I don’t think anything on the table is insurmountable.”
Lanza said the key to reconciliation will be continued and open communication.
“I’m encouraged,” he said simply.
Med Group Chief Still Has Concerns
By Jeanne Sager
ROCK HILL Dr. Hal Teitelbaum’s glass is half full.
As far as the CEO of Crystal Run is concerned, it’s “safe” to use the word “optimistic,” when talking about the future of his organization and Catskill Regional Medical Center.
But Teitelbaum is not backing down from requests he’s made publicly since pulling his physicians out of the hospital eight months ago.
“I do think we have a tremendous opportunity here to start over,” he said.
But with that, he wants CRMC to throw open the closet doors and let their skeletons swing in the breeze.
“I do think the public wants people to admit their mistakes, to be open and honest about these issues,” Teitelbaum said. “I do think that’s a failing of the current board.”
The make-up of the hospital’s board of trustees should change whether that means adding new members to the current structure or the resignation of old members.
Teitelbaum is awaiting the board’s selection of a new CEO, as well as awaiting the results of talks between CRMC’s board and that of Orange Regional Medical Center.
Each decision made by the board will be very telling, he said.
Already he’s buoyed by the decision to replace the hospital’s chief medical officer with Dr. Peter Panzarino, a man Teitelbaum said seems to have his concerns focused on the community and patient care.
He’s also been pleasantly surprised by his dealings with Catskill Regional’s Chief Financial Officer, Nick Lanza, who is currently holding down the fort as the hospital’s senior administrator.
Teitelbaum called him a “good man,” yet another sign that the man who traded very public barbs with former CRMC CEO Art Brien last year has had his faith renewed in the administrative wing of Catskill Regional.
Another good sign are the talks between CRMC and neighboring ORMC.
Teitelbaum has had his own sparring matches with ORMC administrators, but he’s pledged his faith in new CEO Scott Batulis and, more importantly, in the processes the Orange County hospital has in place for dealing with quality concerns.
That is, after all, the very root of Teitelbaum’s caution in returning to Catskill Regional.
The quality of care issues reported to the state health department last year by Crystal Run were first reported to the administration then the board of Catskill Regional.
And Teitelbaum said nothing was done.
If his physicians return, he wants to be sure that they not only have a voice but the board will listen with open and active minds.
Some sort of collaborative agreement between CRMC and ORMC could be an indication that the Sullivan County hospital is embracing practices that work for Crystal Run in Orange County.
The changes thus far have brought Catskill Regional and Crystal Run to the table for the most promising talks of reconciliation in eight months of talking.
“I’m positive changes could occur anytime in terms of our role at Catskill, and I hope that in fact happens,” Teitelbaum pledged. “I’m more optimistic than I’ve been at any point in the last eight months.”