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North Texas Healthcare 2015: The Year In Quotes

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This year in healthcare was a busy one. And these are the quotes that helped add color to the innovation, the business decisions, the challenges, and the stumbles that defined the industry in North Texas. 

“Fear not — Governor-elect Abbott has fought Obamacare and will continue to fight against it. He believes the ACA is not the best option for patients, doctors or taxpayers,” reads the statement. “Greg Abbott believes that Texas should be able to address our unique health-care situation without federal interference, putting patients and doctors in charge of health-care decisions.”

— Amelia Chasse, Gov. Greg Abbott’s spokeswoman, about the governor’s vow never to expand Medicaid during the legislative session and beyond. 

“I suspect that there will come a time there will be some downsizing, but I think a big part of their strategy is to have as wide a geographic footprint as possible. You may be constructing new hospitals in the further reaches of Denton County, or Waxahachie, where the new Baylor hospital went up. I think all these systems want to be out on the fringe of their home court metropolitan areas.”

“More and more you have provider systems moving in the direction of forming statewide networks. Not mergers or acquisitions, but partnerships, so they can form a statewide network or as close to a statewide network that they could offer to employer groups as a preferred provider network.”

Minnesota-based researcher Allan Baumgarten speaks on hospital growth trends following the release of his annual report that gauges profits at area systems. 

“Being aggressive locally could be a significant benefit for populations of stage 4 lung cancer patients. It was a treatment with minimal side effects or difficulties in comparison to the potential benefits. That’s always what we’re looking for in a clinical trial.”

— Dr. Puneeth Iyengar, a UT Southwestern Medical Center faculty member, speaks on the university’s research that tripled the life expectancy of some Stage 4 lung cancer patients. 

“It’s the challenge that makes us take these steps, to go forward where no one else has dared to go. I don’t care if that’s climbing the North Face or Yosemite or setting sail and traveling from Portugal to the Americas, it’s the challenge that makes people do things that are out of the ordinary.”

—Dr. Goran Klintmalm speaks about launching the transplant program at Baylor University Medical Center following its 30th anniversary. 

“We recognized the need for an independent, physician-led network to serve the challenges of doctors and their patients. The goal of Catalyst Health Network is to create healthy independent medical practices, led by doctors who will have a significant impact on the financial and clinical health of their patients. The sum of the network will help transform the health and well-being of our communities in North Texas.”

Dr. Christopher Crow speaks about launching the Catalyst Health Network, an accountable care organization for independent physicians. 

“It defies my logic that a combination of two of the most critical healthcare institutions in this community … in providing healthcare to our citizens, would not produce a better result (together) than the scattershot approach that we’ve already got. I would like to see a true teaching hospital relationship between JPS and UNT. I think such a collaboration between these two institutions is well overdue.”

— Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks, speaking about the moderately controversial decision to link the physician groups for both JPS Health System and the UNT Health Science Center. 

“We need to have those victims of measles speak to themselves rather than people like me or scientists or experts or public health officials or politicians. We need to use their narrative. We’ve rolled out all the studies we have possibly rolled, we’ve changed laws, and clearly people are still willing to fill out this paperwork so they don’t have to get the vaccines.”

— Infectious disease expert Dr. Ed Dominguez speaks about changing the minds of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Early this year, the rise of so-called anti-vaxxers were frequently in the headlines nationwide. 

“Currently, in Dallas County, there are 133,000 people that would be Medicaid eligible if we would just take the federal government’s money. Economically, what that would mean to you, it would mean that $1.4 million would be running through our medical systems every single day taking care of an additional 133,000 people. The economic impact would be hundreds of millions of dollars more right now just on the impact of those dollars for increased health and decreasing absenteeism, from people just having preventive healthcare.”

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on his desire to see the Legislature expand Medicaid. It didn’t happen. 

“I don’t think anybody in this country really felt that it was a five alarm issue. We had begun to process the information that the CDC was sending out. Our infection prevention staff had pulled the information together and started putting communication out to folks. Some of our physicians that are infectious disease specialists had begun preparing, and actually holding, some meetings and continuing medical education and programs for physicians.”

Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan on preparing practitioners for treating a patient with Ebola.

“It’s very difficult on the revenue side to make up any of the changes that we’ve had to incur with the anticipation of Medicaid being expanded. And it has had an impact on us, that long term, we hope that Medicaid gets expanded in the state of Texas. But in the case that it doesn’t, we have to make sure that our expenses again are in line with our revenues. They cannot exceed that. So if there’s not a long-term expansion for Medicare on the forefront legislatively, we’ll have to adjust our operations as needed.”

Parkland CFO John Moore on the financial impact of the state failing to expand Medicaid. 

“I think it’s a big deal. For the most part, healthcare providers have not pursued arbitration agreements at all. I think that’s going to be revolutionary, and you’re going to see a lot of the industry—especially nursing homes—immediately start having arbitration agreements.”

—Healthcare attorney David Moore on the impact of a Supreme Court of Texas ruling that allows providers to elect arbitration in malpractice cases. 

“The focus and the mission of this standalone facility are devoted to the treatment of injuries in regards to youth sports. There are 29 different youth sports. A lot of people are doing something similar, but they’re doing it in conjunction with a larger more comprehensive facility. The concept of this being a pediatric sports medicine center is unique; it’s certainly one of the first in the United States to be devoted to a standalone facility for orthopedics sports medicine treatment for youth, for the youth athlete.”

—Renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who teamed with Children’s Health to form a dedicated pediatric sports treatment facility.

“We want our members to be able to practice in the setting that they feel is best for them with the tools that they need to be successful. This is not anti-hospital or anti-big practice or anything like that.”

—Sue Bornstein, the executive director of the Texas Medical Association’s Medical Home Initiative, speaks on the TMA’s new independent physician services company, TMA PracticeEdge.

“It’s really the way healthcare is moving. So many procedures now can be done on an outpatient basis. The physicians prefer to practice in these more convenient, simpler environments.”

—Tenet Healthcare Corp. CEO Trevor Fetter, days after announcing that the Dallas-based system would be acquiring United Surgical Partners International to create the nation’s largest outpatient network

“The landscape in this market is saturated enough. There isn’t much opportunity for any particular player to say, ‘let’s build a new hospital.’ They’ve all been built. Or ‘let’s acquire a hospital;’ they tend to be consolidated into large systems. So with that kind of market dynamic, it made a lot of sense for us to think about who we might want to partner with.”

Fetter, a day later, after announcing a new joint operating agreement with Baylor Scott & White. 

“A lot of Dallas County Medical Society physicians literally trained at the old Parkland—I did some training at the old Parkland—so we have a fondness toward that old institution, but I think this one just enables them to deliver higher and better quality care.”

Dallas County Medical Society President Dr. Jim Walton at the dedication of the New Parkland Hospital

“This is the first concrete stepping stone toward understanding why (scoliosis) is so prevalent in females.”

Dr. Carol Wise, a researcher at Scottish Rite, about her findings that could help illuminate what causes scoliosis in girls. 

“I know so many people who do all of their exams at the same time of the year so they don’t forget, but for me, I would recommend spacing them out. So if one misses or something develops in between, maybe the next person catches it. I would not have caught this. The doctor caught this.”

Janet St. James, a longtime WFAA-TV medical reporter turned HCA public relations specialist, revealed in April that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

“Unfortunately, the Texas Medical Board’s decision to adopt a new rule takes away Texans’ access to a safe, affordable and convenient health care option that many have depended upon for more than a decade. As Texas’ population booms, health care expenses climb, and the shortage of primary care physicians grows, telehealth is a solution for patients dealing with common, non-emergency issues. This rule change only serves to intensify these problems without providing any benefit to Texans.”

Jason Gorevic, CEO of Texas-based Teladoc, reacts to news that the Texas Medical Board issued a rule limiting telemedicine to only include patients and doctors who have previously established a face-to-face relationship. Teladoc later sued. In May, a judge issued an injunction staying the rule until Teladoc’s challenge was determined in court. In December, the judge denied the TMB’s request to dismiss that suit.

“Eliminating the constant threat of Medicare payment cuts means that we can focus our energies on improving this new law. We can focus our energies on removing the bureaucratic impediments that get in the way of good patient care. We can focus our energies on enacting substantive and fundamental Medicare reforms that will help us provide life-saving, life-sustaining, and life-enhancing care to our senior citizens, military families, and Texans with disabilities.”

Texas Medical Association’s former president Dr. Austin King on Congress finally repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate

“We are so excited to be in this facility. All of the hard work, all of the angst, all of the prayers; all of the financing, the re-financing, the praying for financing—everything that went into this process, father, we’re just so grateful. This neighborhood, this community is in need of a signal and I believe you’re sending a signal today.”

A prayer led by the Rev. Donald Parish Jr. of the True Lee Missionary Baptist Church during the opening celebration for Parkland’s newest clinic located in the Frazier Courts neighborhood of southeast Dallas. 

“Toussaint would hand-write his initials in both the top and bottom right sections of the medical record in the ‘Pre-Anesthesia Consultation & Plan’ and ‘Anesthesia & Surgical Vents’ sections and then leave the hospital,” the indictment reads. “He would also hand-write on the chart ‘Present for induction and emergence’ along with his initials—knowing he would not be present for these events.”

—Quotes from the indictment of Forest Park Medical Center co-founder Dr. Richard Toussaint, who stands accused of 17 counts of healthcare fraud

“Once we have a complete understanding of what the tumor looks like we can use a combination of treatments and use different strategies for the drugs. These patients are going to respond so much better, and we’ll have much better luck treating and managing them.”

Dr. Ajay Goel, an investigator and the director for the Center of Epigenetics, Cancer Prevention and Cancer Genomics at the Baylor Research Institute and Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, after announcing that Baylor will be partnering with Arizona’s TGen to further its precision medicine initiative. 

“The governor should have reached out to physicians and other medical personnel who provide care in the real world of our emergency rooms before vetoing this legislation. “They would have told him about the patients they encounter who pose a real danger to themselves or to those around them.”

TMA President Dr. Tomas Garcia reacts to Gov. Greg Abbott vetoing a bill that would have allowed physicians to detain a mentally ill patient if they were posing a danger to themselves or others. 

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal rule making subsidies available to eligible individuals through federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplaces, like the one here in Texas. This means that health insurance subsidies will continue to be available on these Marketplaces. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is reviewing the Court’s decision, and will share any additional information as we learn more. We remain focused on providing an array of affordable products and services to our members and the market. We also will continue to lead on patient-centered health care delivery reforms that promote innovation, value and high-quality care for our members.” 

—Dr. Dan McCoy, chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, after the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare subsidies are constitutional.

“Our goal at the UNT Health Science Center is to take a national lead in developing future care models. One of the big keys is to develop team-based care … (by having) all kinds of healthcare experts to come around the patient to make the absolute best care plan.”

—Dr. Michael Williams, UNT Health Science Center’s president, on creating a new MD program alongside Texas Christian University.

“There was a dad who spoke about how much it helped their child. I do remember I started crying, which isn’t unusual for me, but he spoke from his heart about how much his child was sick and how much this would help. It helped me realize, ‘oh, you’ve really got to go out and ask for money for these kids.’ It really set the tone for me. … It’s a place for these families to feel safe with their sick kids, which is a big deal.”

Robyn Conlon, immediate past ball chairman of the Crystal Charity Ball, after news that Children’s Health would acquire Baylor’s Our Children’s House

“It’s very, very rare. Probably over 99 percent of the facilities that we issue notice of termination come back into compliance.”

—David Wright, acting regional administrator for Region 6 of CMS, which includes Texas, after Timberlawn Health System initially lost its funding following patient care violations. 

“I feel just fine, I’m OK. I’m just ready to get my little bundle of joy out. I’m in good hands here.”

—Nedra Washington, the first patient in the new Parkland Hospital.

“As with all public health emergencies in the United States involving infectious diseases, the CDC serves an important advisory role for doctors and nurses caring for an infected patient with a disease such as Ebola. Nevertheless, when preparing for such complex emergencies hospitals and health systems should understand that it is the hospital system and its clinical staff who are ultimately responsible for the care of patients.”

An independent report that found Presby largely at fault for the problems that emerged after the first Ebola patient in the nation sought care. 

“We have done this for over 30 years, so we have an extraordinarily experienced strike team here; a Seal Team 6 type set up here. We had a large number of rooms going at once and…you really have to have the capacity, not just in the rooms, but with the anesthesia, with the nurses. And then afterward to put them in the ICU.”

—Dr. Goran Klintmalm, chief and chairman of the Simmons Transplant Institute with Baylor, after Baylor set a state record for organ transplants in a single day

“We’re not going to let this linger. We are completely comfortable with divesting the assets. We’re going to be done with this one way or another.”

Rick Matros, CEO of Sabra Health Care REIT, after the bankruptcy filing by Forest Park Medical Center at Frisco, for which the REIT owns the real estate. 

“We at UTSW believe we also have a special responsibility for driving the translation of scientific advances and innovation into better care for patients. Southwestern Health Resources will include an integrated, coordinated network of nearly 3,000 physicians that can provide the communities of our region the full continuum of care, from prevention and health management to highly specialized care in state-of-the-art facilities.”

Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, UT Southwestern’s President, after announcing a new partnership with Texas Health Resources

“There’s no doubt in my mind that all the leading cancer centers are going to offer proton therapy. It’s not a silver bullet. It doesn’t cure every problem, but right now it’s the best radiation tool available for treating solid tumors.” 

John Frick, interim executive director of the Maryland-based National Association for Proton Therapy, after the opening of North Texas’ first proton therapy center. 

“I’ve been in healthcare quite a number of years now and there was a time when a hospital would not invest in startups like this. They would insist upon making it themselves from scratch. Sometimes that can be more expensive and you have to go through all the initial bumps in the road as you pilot and test the new service. And from Jonathan’s perspective, we have a strong brand name, we have the trust of consumers, and we also have a fairly large delivery system.”

—Peter Roberts, executive vice president for population health at Children’s Health, after announcing a new initiative to partner with startups, beginning with Dallas’ Mend.

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