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New Administrator Named for IMVH

Task Force questions proposed health systems merger.

Barbara J. Doyle, a health care professional with more than 25 years experience, has been named new senior vice-president and administrator for Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. She will fill the position vacated by Susan Herbert who served in that capacity for eight years.

Inova Health System Executive Vice President Rod Huebbers announced Doyle's selection at the commencement of the Southeast Health Planning Task Force meeting on April 19 at the hospital. "She is a registered nurse with great communications skills coupled with superior administrative talents," Huebbers told Task Force members.

Supervisor Gerald Hyland (D-Mount Vernon), who attended the Task Force meeting, stated that he had been invited to participate in the interview process and admitted that he had told Huebbers that he "hoped the administrator would be a woman." He did not elaborate on why he held that preference, but stated, "She is just plain good people."

Huebbers acknowledged that he had originally hired Doyle when he was at Winchester Hospital in Winchester, Mass., years ago. He also told the Task Force that he had personally called Doyle and encouraged her to apply for the IMVH position.

FOR THE PAST eight years, Doyle has been vice president, Patient Care and Ambulatory Services, as well as Chief Nursing Officer and Administrator of Ambulatory Services at the Winchester facility. During that time, she was responsible for a 200-bed community hospital and 17 off-site locations.

With a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's degree in health administration, Doyle is a graduate of Emmanual College in Massachusetts. She received her RN diploma from Lynn Hospital School of Nursing, Lynn, Mass.

Doyle is expected to commence her duties at IMVH in early June. "I'm sure you look forward, as I do, to the renewed focus and leadership she'll provide to the hospital and southeast service area," Huebbers stated in his announcement memorandum. The position has been filled on a temporary basis by Arlene Reynolds while a nationwide search for a permanent replacement was conducted.

"We've got a long road ahead of us," said Huebbers. "Forty percent of the business that comes to this hospital comes because of the Joint Replacement Center."

He reiterated what he has said since his appointment last fall that IMVH is a "true community asset" that needs more publicity. As an example, Huebbers cited the fact that the four top Orthopedic resident physicians in the nation have chosen to practice at IMVH next year.

FOLLOWING UP on one of the Task Force's primary recommendations in its report to the IHS Board of Directors upon completion of their original goal of preventing the closure of IMVH, Huebbers said that IHS has closed on the property for a healthplex in the Lorton area. "It is now in the zoning approval process and we hope to have it open by late 2007 or early 2008," he said.

"We are going to be looking very carefully at the language of the proffers. We are expecting language that clearly specifies that the healthplex will be part of Mount Vernon Hospital. That this is where inpatient care will take place when that is necessary," Hyland said.

Huebbers verified that the Emergency Room at the healthplex would be "an extension of IMVH's emergency room." He also noted that the $20 million expansion or "bump out" to Mount Vernon Hospital is on track.

Both Task Force members and Hyland expressed concern about the announced merger of IHS and Prince William health systems. Several questioned IHS's expenditure of "in excess of $200 million" on the merger so soon after acquiring Loudoun Hospital, Huebber's previous home base.

"This proposed merger started through an initiative from Prince William not Inova. They initiated the discussions, not us. And, the same thing happened with Loudoun," Huebbers said.

"The medical staff and community in Prince William are supportive of this merger," he said. Huebbers also was very adamant in emphasizing that the joining will be a merger. "This is not an acquisition," he said. However, when the merger is complete Prince William Hospital will become Inova Prince William Hospital.

"My sense of this is that they initiated the discussions because of the growth in the western part of Prince William County. At the end of the day, the (Prince William) Board has to be concerned with community health needs," Huebbers said.

He also emphasized that this was only the beginning of the merger process. As stated in the IHS merger announcement, Huebbers said, "We have reached an agreement in principle to explore this potential merger. It is not a done deal."

"The agreement calls for Inova to invest in excess of $200 million to expand and accelerate the development of multiple, capital-intensive projects not only at Prince William Hospital, but also in Gainesville, Haymarket and other western Prince William County locations," according to the joint announcement.

Nevertheless, this expenditure will not sidetrack planned renovations and expansion at IMVH, according to Huebbers. "There is plenty of money to still do all the improvements at Mount Vernon Hospital," he said.

In addition to working out details between the two non-profit hospital groups, the merger must also be approved by state and federal agencies, according to Huebbers. "This process can take quite a while," he said.

Representatives of both organizations plan to make presentations to various entities within their respective communities. The merger is seen as an opportunity to make "the added resources, expertise and financial strength of IHS available" to Prince William facilities while further "broadening the health care options" to residents of Northern Virginia.

ANOTHER MAJOR CONCERN discussed by the Task Force was the impact of an additional 21,500 people on the area as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Report's recommendations to grow Fort Belvoir. One aspect of that report calls for the expansion of Belvoir's DeWitt Hospital in conjunction with the closing of Walter Reed Army Hospital.

It has been the objective of the Task Force and IMVH to increase the hospital's obstetrics services. One possibility for this is having DeWitt shift that service to IMVH.

"The only way for OB services to come here from DeWitt is for Sen. Warner to direct the Army to do so. I don't believe it’s their inclination to have their births here," Hyland said.

"Both Warner and Allen [Virginia U.S. Sens. John Warner (R) and George Allen (R)] should be asked to weigh in on this. The key to future growth is getting the BRAC people here," Huebbers said.

"The Army's thinking on DeWitt changed when the decision was made to close Walter Reed. Prior to that, DeWitt was being reduced to a 20 bed facilities with an emphasis on out-patient care," said Task Force member George Barker, Health Systems Agency of Northern Virginia.

"If ever there was a time the Army should be willing to work with the community it's now because of bringing 21,500 people to this community," Hyland said.

Task Force member Louise Cleveland, who also serves as chair of the Health and Human Service Committee, Mount Vernon Council of Citizens' Associations, suggested that military doctors specializing in OB "practice at Mount Vernon Hospital to gain experience."

On a motion by Task Force member Ken Disselkoen, it was decided that Task Force Chair Anne Andrews would draft a letter addressed to Sens. Warner and Allen "asking their support in working with the Army to have OB located at IMVH under a partnership arrangement with DeWitt."

Two other matters brought to the Task Force were:

* Andrews circulated a letter dated April 5 she had sent to Robert B. Stroube, M.D., commissioner, Virginia Department of Health, expressing "strong support" from the Task Force for IHS's proposed Lorton HealthPlex "with an emergency department that is connected to the emergency department at IMVH."

* Barker informed the group that "Inova's relationship with Ophthalmologists has not been the best" and as a result "some are talking about establishing a separate facility near Inova Fairfax Hospital." This will put a competing application into the mix with the present one for more emergency room facilities at IMVH. Barker said that no action should be taken by the Task Force at this time.

Prior to their meeting, Task Force members were given a tour of the hospital's top medical service areas such as the hyperbaric chamber, new heart scan center and the rehabilitation facility.