Hospital recovery plan wins approval

March 04, 2003 11:00 pm

By ABBY SOUZA

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors yesterday unanimously approved a revised financial recovery plan for Tuolumne General Hospital.

The four-part approval includes the county's OK on the plan and also stipulates the board re-examine this year's TGH shortfall — estimated between $1 million and $2.7 million — on March 18; give direction at that time to County Administrative Officer C. Brent Wallace to find ways to cover the hospital's projected $5 million need during 2003 and 2004; and direct Wallace to prepare an outline of alternatives to the current hospital operation.

Last week, county staff formed a committee to study what would be required to turn the ailing hospital into an outpatient facility.

But TGH Administrator Barry Woerman, in his recovery plan, outlined 10 ideas to help the county hospital recuperate from six years of financial difficulties. The hospital is a county enterprise fund — which means it is supposed to make money.

Supervisors yesterday mainly wanted to know what Woerman will do if the ideas do not work.

Woerman touted what he sees as the beginnings of the hospital's recovery already — an increased number of patients in February — but didn't have specific backup plans if any of the 10 ideas fails.

The board's approval allows hospital staff to begin implementing the plan's ideas, which range from turning the Visiting Nurse Association into its own county-funded program to establishing a dental health service.

TGH administrators said they hope to have the ideas up and running by the end of the fiscal year, including making the Visiting Nurses Association its own enterprise fund, opening a dental program and hiring permanent doctors.

When the plan was first presented Feb. 11, supervisors sent it back to TGH staff and asked for specifics on how those ideas would work, including detailed timelines for each.