Dr. Omar D. Hussamy
Dr. Hussamy’s answers to 10 community questions posed by Vero Communiqué.
- Have you ever spent any time at the health care providers funded by the Indian River County Hospital District (IRCHD) to observe how their facilities work (e.g. spent a day in the Indian River Medical Center [IRMC] emergency room) and have you ever met with any indigent members of the community to understand their life situations? If so, generally speaking, what have you learned?
“I have worked at IRMC for 22 years and treated many indigent members of our community. IRMC is over-managed with 12 executive vice presidents and numerous middle managers. This has led to an inefficient operation with a waste of taxpayers’ money. We, the residents of Indian River County, need less managers and more nurses, CNAs and ancillary staff to improve patient care for all our citizens.”
- Are you concerned about the adverse impact of Sebastian River Medical Center’s (SRMC) $64 million expansion may have on any of the health care providers supported by IRCHD? Would you be in favor any opportunities for the IRCHD to partner with SRMC to better serve the county’s underserved populations?
“The SRMC expansion is good for our county as it provides more services for our residents. SRMC treats indigent patients at no charge to the Indian River County Hospital District. IRCHD should partner with SRMC if it provides more cost effective treatment than IRMC.”
- Are you familiar with the District’s Vision, Mission and Strategic Plan recently developed and approved by the Trustees? Do you support the IRCHD transitioning from a “Hospital” to a “Health” District? Additionally, if IRCHD is to become a “Health” District what other organizations, would you like to support?
“I am familiar with this transition and feel more organizations outside of hospital control allow better, more cost effective patient care to be administered. This should include home health companies and outpatient clinics.”
- In the strategic plan it says that: “By November 1, 2016, staff will recommend method for utilizing the Health Needs Assessment data in all District communications.” Is there a need for a new Health Needs Assessment to collect data from for-profit health care providers such as private practitioners and even SRMC itself, rather than only the not-for-profit organizations that were included in the current assessment?
- On August 18, 2016 IRMC CFO Greg Gardner spoke before the IRCHD Trustees and projected a breakeven operation for the fiscal year ending 09/30/16. When asked why the Sebastian River Medical Center, with the same demographics, makes money and we don’t, Mr. Gardner said it was due to the “egregious” disparity in private payer rates between what IRMC, LRMC and SRMC are paid for the same services. With Blue Cross, for example, SRMC is paid twice what IRMC is paid and Lawnwood Regional Medical Center (LRMC) is paid three times as much for the same services. This speaks to different contracts between the hospitals and the private payers. SRMC is owned by Community Health Systems (CMS), who owns 200 hospitals. Mr. Gardner said if IRMC was paid the same rates by Blue Cross as SRMC, it would bring $50 million to IRMC’s bottom line. Obviously an organization like CMS has more leverage. Do you support the IRCHD taking the necessary steps to sell IRMC to organizations like CMS to gain leverage to bring more to the bottom line?
“IRMC conducts their own negotiations with Blue Cross and other insurance companies. IRMC has numerous vice presidents and consultants and they cannot negotiate a better reimbursement rate? It is not good enough.”
- Hospitals that are not part of a university, a health system or a chain of private hospitals are often called “community hospitals.” A regional hospital is a hospital that serves a larger area than a local hospital. On its website, IRMC indicates that “in late 2006, to reflect the transition from a good community hospital to a top-quality medical center, the hospital changed its name from Indian River Memorial Hospital to Indian River Medical Center. Indian River Medical Center is focused on providing quality healthcare to Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Brevard and Seminole counties in Florida. Counties.” So is IRMC a community hospital and what would be the difference if IRMC became part of a chain of private hospitals?
“Forget names, IRMC is a community hospital that serves a county of 130,000 residents and that is, ‘in season.’ IRMC should focus on the ER, OR and running an efficient hospital employed physician group, not building edifices.”
- There has been a lot of community discussion that IRMC is not transparent to the IRCHD with its financial data surrounding personnel issues, other subjects including financial details on IRMC’s Heart and Cancer Center, affiliations with Duke University’s programs and why, for cancer, IRMC chose Duke rather than the Moffitt Cancer Center; as well as, whether or not the private practices acquired by IRMC are making or losing money. In accordance with the IRCHD lease with IRMC, Section 9.f.i. b, “with reasonable promptness such other financial data requested by Lessor (IRCHD) as may be demonstrated to be necessary to protect the interests of the Lessor” shall be furnished to IRCHD. Additionally, two IRCHD trustees sit on the IRMC Finance Committee. With this background, why can’t these transparency issues be resolved as a duty to the Indian River County taxpayers who support the IRMC?
“This is a travesty. All financial data should be available to our county taxpayers and it is IRMC CEO Mr. Susi and the IRMC BOD that are at fault.”
- Do you feel that the IRCHD is over-reaching its duties by trying to run the IRMC rather than just fund it? Do you feel the IRCHD is trying to run it? If not, should they pay more attention to doing so?
“If the IRMC BOD did its’ job and actually ran the hospital rather than acting as a rubber stamp for the CEO, there would be no need for the IRCHD to get involved. The IRMC ER loses $250,000 a month and the IRMA physician group lost $4,000,000 last year. Nothing changes. Does the IRMC BOD do anything to reverse this? No. Why not? Let’s ask them individually”.
- Have you had any communications of any type with IRMC administration, any members of the IRMC Board of Directors, or any of the IRCHD funded organizations related to running for or serving on the IRCHD? Do you have any personal relationship with any member of IRMC administration, members of the IRMC board of directors, or members in the same capacity of any IRCHD funded organizations? If yes to either, what was the content of those conversations about the IRCHD or nature of the personal relationship and how do you plan to avoid any perceived or real conflicts of interest?
“No and I have no personal relationship with any of those individuals. I work for SRMC as an employed physician but I am running for office as a taxpayer who wants to improve the situation in our county.”
- “Please share your thoughts on how the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has affected our indigent population, IRMC, the health care providers IRCHD supports and the private practitioner community.”
“Obamacare has affected the entire spectrum of healthcare in a negative way.”