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New Name To Lead Troubled Parkland Hospital

Parkland Hospital
Parkland Hospital

Parkland Hospital is ready to put another new name on the top office door. Parkland’s Board is expected to name a hospital turnaround expert as the new Interim CEO.

Last year, Parkland failed a major federal inspection. The report said patients were in immediate jeopardy in some areas, especially the emergency room and infection control. Longtime CEO Dr. Ron Anderson was reassigned, and Dr. Thomas Royer brought in to help get the county hospital back on track. Royer recently came under the criticism of federal monitors, citing slow progress. His contract is up August 30th.

Enter Bob Smith, a former Tenet Healthcare senior vice president. Parkland Board Chair Debbie Branson says there’s an important reason Smith’s the one.

“His experience doing turnarounds with troubled institutions, very successful,” said Branson. “His style is calm, cool and collected. He understands the issues. I think he will hit the ground running.”

In Houston a decade ago, Bob Smith turned around a private hospital system that had defaulted on a $300 million dollar debt and had trouble making payroll. He says he would draw on that difficult experience as the new leader of Parkland.

The hospital has until next April to make major changes in patient care and hospital procedures or lose Medicare and Medicaid funding – more than 50% of the budget.

Smith admits he is nervous, but confident.

“You know if you look at the American healthcare industry hospitals normally don’t go out of business because people that work in them have a calling and it’s their lifestyle, Smith said. “I would say almost without exception the troops will always rally and win the day. And I think that’s happening here. And I think it will happen here.”

Board Chair Branson says Dr. Royer came in very difficult times and began the triage of the troubled hospital, and he has the Board’s thanks. She says Smith is the final piece of a new leadership team that’s been put in place over the past several weeks to transform Parkland – and do it in a hurry.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.