Ford optimistic about The MED's future

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Interim Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford was positive Monday about the future of the emergency room at The MED, after leaders made several crafty money moves to keep it open.

Late last year, officials said the hospital's emergency room could shut down by mid-February if the facility did not receive additional operating funds.

Monday, February 15, arrived with The MED's emergency room still operating normally. Officials said the facility remained open in part because of a Shelby County Commission resolution approved by Interim Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford to give them $10M.

"The deadline was February first," Ford said. "We pushed it back to February fifteenth, so they're looking at March first right now, but they do have the $10 million. That's enough to carry them through September (or) October."

Last October, hospital board chairman Gene Holcomb said if The MED didn't receive $32 million in additional funding per year, the hospital's emergency room could close.  After a series of drastic measures, from cutting jobs to slashing benefits, county leaders say efficiency consultant FTI Cambio brought The Med from a deficit to a break-even status.

Still, the hospital is hanging on by a thread.

"We're hoping that the state will come up with funding," Ford said. "We feel pretty good that they will do that."

Ford sounded more optimistic Monday than in the past, after Governor Phil Bredesen said recently the hospital would receive no extra funding from the state.

But some new money is coming in.  Some Shelby County employees are now dedicating portions of their paycheck to The Med.

"Thirteen thousand dollars per year in contributions to The Med, and it's growing every day," Ford said.

In addition to asking the state for proper reimbursement, The Med is asking for reimbursement for treating patients from Arkansas and Mississippi.

The MED's trauma center - the such facility in the area - is not in danger of closing.  Officials say The MED needs an additional $22 million before June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.