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Vista Medical Center East board members concerned about hospital finances; ‘We are working through this with everyone
There are concerns about the route American Healthcare Systems (AHS) is taking as it seeks to put Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan on solid financial footing.
AHS purchased Vista from Quorum Health Corporation in July, and Faisal Gill, a corporate representative for the company, said Quorum owed more than $15 million at the time. By the end of the year, Vista will be profitable.
Trustee George Bridges Jr. has been asking CEO Bianca Defilippi questions since the purchase in September and has received some answers and is awaiting others. A special meeting of the board was requested by trustee Rick Harris on Dec. 30.
Vista executives and the Board of Trustees will meet next week in Waukegan to discuss the company’s financial status and how to calm the situation.
The meeting is scheduled for next week since it will take that long to get everyone together. Eleanor Murkey, board chair, said Monday she had no comment. After the meeting, she will have something to say.
Bridges had requested a letter from Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek outlining her concerns about the hospital. Besides being a registered nurse anesthetist, she also practices there. On Dec. 30, Harris forwarded the letter to Defilippi.
According to Banek, medical groups at the hospital were not getting paid on time and leaving. Due to late payments, staffing agencies that provided services, such as traveling nurses, stopped sending them.
It is preferable to hire its own nurses rather than hire traveling nurses from staffing agencies. Vista is trying to phase out the use of traveling nurses in favor of utilizing its own staff to care for patients, according to Defilippi.
The cost of using travel nurses is high, Defilippi said.
We are working on this with everyone. “They are listening to us and working with us.”
Gill said AHS intends to have Vista and other facilities profitable within a year of acquiring them.
According to Harris’ letter to Defilippi, the company has had a significant turnover of key personnel, which he doesn’t think is good for staff morale.
As Vista’s assistant CEO, Kim Needham said the company holds quarterly town hall meetings so employees can ask questions and learn about what’s happening. Defilippi said the meetings are essential to morale.
Defilippi said they were doing their best to be transparent.
AHS also owns Vista’s Lindenhurst campus, which offers ambulatory care, a free-standing emergency center, and medical offices. Other offices in northern Lake County, including an outpatient imaging facility, can also be found in Gurnee.
AHS acquired Vista in July from parent company Quorum Health Corporation, based in Tennessee. In addition to Randolph Health Hospital in Asheboro, North Carolina Gateway Regional Medical Center in Granite City, and Wilson Jones Hospital in Sherman, Texas, AHS also operates Randolph Health Hospital in Asheboro.
Vista Health began in 2000 by taking over both St. Therese and Victory Memorial Hospitals. St. Therese closed subsequently. The hospital was acquired by Quorum in 2016.
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