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Supervisors Seek Inova Reports

Officials try to head off losing hospital.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors turned up the heat on Inova Health System (IHS) Monday to answer questions concerning their plans for Inova Mount Vernon Hospital (IMVH).

At the behest of both Mount Vernon District supervisor Gerald W. Hyland and Lee District supervisor Dana Kauffman, the Board adopted a series of requests for information pertaining to all facets of the hospital's operations and IHS's deliberations about IMVH's future. They set a response deadline of Sept. 10, according to Hyland.

Among the requests, the supervisors will seek reports on the status of operations, programs and plans, including those that alter service delivery patterns of Inova Mount Vernon. These reports will include the nature and amount of indigent care provided through specialty and referral programs and may include an integration of programmatic, financial and health-care trend information.

The move by the supervisors this week was triggered by a July 19 letter from the Executive Committee of Inova Mount Vernon Hospital staff to Knox Singleton, CEO of Inova Health System, and to Susan Herbert, hospital administrator.

Hyland and Kauffman had also sent a letter to Singleton dated July 14. In that letter, they expressed concern about the announced layoffs at IMVH and questioned whether they were consistent with similar actions throughout IHS.

"We request that Inova provide a list of positions/functions cut from Mount Vernon Hospital and an explanation as to why they were eliminated ... if equivalent positions/functions were cut from other Inova hospitals ... if the cuts were proportional. We have heard the cuts ... represent 28 percent of all Inova layoffs. ... On its face, that does not sound proportional," they wrote.

AS A FINAL justification for their proposed motion, Hyland and Kauffman included a letter from The Mount Vernon Council of Citizens Associations Inc. (MVCCA), dated July 29, to Singleton. It also contained a unanimously adopted motion by that body titled "Public Support for Saving Mount Vernon Hospital."

In their motion, MVCCA, which represents more than 70 neighborhood associations, called upon IHS "to analyze and to report to the public, before Sept. 24, 2003, its projections of future needs in the southeastern region of the county, its analysis of both present and potential roles for Mount Vernon Hospital ... and its plans for sustaining and investing in ... Mount Vernon Hospital."

The Council reminded Singleton, "The residents of Mount Vernon have supported the hospital with investment of time and money beginning with the hospital's planning stages and continuing through the present. ... Unless the public can examine the facts, the necessary nonpartisan public support for good planning and good policy cannot be achieved."

The letter was copied to 13 political and governmental representatives, in addition to Hyland and Kauffman.

In their background information to the Board of Supervisors requesting passage of the motion, Hyland and Kauffman reminded their colleagues, "The hospital is on county-owned land which Inova leases for $10 a year for a 75-year term."

They also pointed out that the Citizens Task Force formed by IHS "to help restore viability to the hospital" adopted "a motion which would serve as a mission statement." It specified, "The purpose of the committee [task force] is to come up with recommendations which would keep Mount Vernon Hospital in its present location and enhance the services offered."

Speaking on behalf of their constituencies, Hyland and Kauffman emphasized, "We, as a Board, have the responsibility of looking more deeply into the serious possibility of losing our community's full-service hospital."