Parkland Hospital names interim CEO, staffing in 'crisis mode'

Troubled Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas has named an interim CEO it hopes will help turn the troubled organization around. In addition to safety problems, staff violations and allegations of billing fraud, hospital staffing has reached "crisis mode," with more than 1,300 unfilled positions and a shortfall of hundreds of nurses. 

Robert L. Smith will take over as interim CEO, effective in mid-September. Smith will replace Thomas Royer, M.D., who became interim CEO in December and whose contract expires at the end of August, Bloomberg Businessweek reports

The hospital has launched a nationwide CEO search, which in March was reported to potentially take a year. It named a slate of senior executives to interim posts in July, according to Becker's Hospital Review.

Smith, a retired vice president from Tenet Healthcare, performed a complex restructuring of Clarent Hospital Corp. in Houston and has managed multi-state regions for Universal Health Services and Tenet. He also has previously served as a healthcare CEO and board member. 

Smith "has extensive experience doing just what we need him to do--taking an organization facing significant challenges and turning it around," Debbie Branson, chair of Parkland's Board of Managers, said in an announcement.

Branson told The Dallas Morning News, which characterized the change as an ouster, that Royer had provided stability for the hospital, but it's still struggling to "hard-wire" changes to protect patients.

Despite reaching an agreement with CMS for corrective actions to stay open after multiple reported patient safety breaches, safety monitors found hundreds of staff violations in June alone, FierceHealthcare has reported. In addition, the U.S. Justice Department is investigating new claims that the hospital defrauded Medicare and Medicaid.

In addition to its other woes, hospital staffing has reached "crisis mode," according to The Dallas Morning News, with more than 1,300 unfilled positions. It's short about 400 nurses, including those staffing surgical care, trauma and critical care. Some overworked nurses have just quit, the story says. The hospital normally has about 500 open positions.

The board has approved a $250,000 "enhanced recruiting" plan to accelerate hiring. The hospital also offers employees bonuses of $500 to $1,500 if they refer qualified candidates for hard-to fill jobs and signing bonuses of $1,000 to $3,000 for candidates accepting those positions.

To learn more:
- read the Bloomberg article
- here's the hospital's announcement
- read the Becker's post
- check out the Morning News staffing article
- here's the Morning News story on Smith 


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