Dallas County

Federally Mandated Improvements at Parkland Will Top $31 Mil

Parkland Memorial Hospital was almost shut down last year after federal inspectors threatened to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars of Medicare and Medicaid funding after finding "deficiencies that represent an immediate and serious threat to patient health and safety." Because of its size and importance to the community, Parkland was allowed to stay open so long as it consented to close federal scrutiny.

Parkland, dogged by solid reporting from the DMN, has been coy about specific plans, but tomorrow, the Dallas County Commissioners Court will get an idea of how much the fixes will cost.

According to tomorrow's briefing, Parkland will need to spend at least $31 million to bring itself into compliance with federal rules.

That includes $13.8 million to pay for 232 full-time positions (about a third in the emergency room), $9.1 million in consulting fees, $3.2 million for retention, $840,000 for additional supplies, and $600,000 in legal fees. Those are not included in the $1.2 billion operating budget proposed for 2013.

The presentation doesn't get into too many specifics, but the additional cash will add 57 new beds to the hospital and improve infection control, medication management, psychiatric services, etc.

In a voicemail she left me this morning, Parkland spokeswoman April Foran said the additional costs will be "funded internally" and that the hospital will not ask Dallas County to chip in. More specifically, she told me a moment ago, the money is coming from the hospital's reserves.

Now is as good a time as any to dip into the nest egg, but the costs could still be mounting. Buried in the briefing from Parkland officials is a bullet point noting that "substantial work remains ... to identify additional investments for [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] initiatives."

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson