Temple hires medical adviser

Posted: August 02, 2007

Temple University's president has appointed a health-care management consultant to keep closer tabs on the Temple University Health System, which has been struggling financially, and on the medical school and faculty-physician practice.

Ann Weaver Hart recently told employees of the medical school in a letter that Frank D. Campbell, a senior manager with ECG Management Consultants, would serve as senior adviser for health-care affairs in her office.

Campbell said yesterday that he would work closely with leaders of the health divisions for an undetermined period of time, but none would report to him. He will continue to be paid by ECG, a firm that employs about 70 professionals throughout the United States.

In her letter, Hart said she wanted to "facilitate joint planning that integrates the clinical and academic enterprises and fosters the financial, organizational and programmatic health" of the health system, medical school and physician practice. She was on vacation yesterday and unavailable for further comment.

So far, Campbell's work, which started in October, has led to the formation of a Temple board committee that will focus on health care and to changes in the governance of the faculty practice, which employs 450 people.

Campbell said his primary job was to foster "communication and coordination" among the health entities and to look at management structure. "We are not here to conduct or effect a financial turnaround," he said.

Area health-care consultants said ECG was not known for recommending major spending cuts.

Daniel Polett, chairman of Temple's board, said that "there hasn't been a lot of disharmony" among the health-care divisions, but that the board wants to feel better prepared as it faces a particularly challenging financial picture. He said he expected to see "substantial improvements" in the next two years.

According to its most recent report to bondholders, the health system lost $17 million on $920 million in operating revenue in fiscal 2006. The unaudited report says the system made $20.5 million on $722 million in revenue during the first nine months of fiscal 2007.

During those nine months, Temple University Hospital made money, but the system's other hospitals - Temple University Children's Medical Center, and Northeastern and Jeanes Hospitals - lost money.

The system cut 500 jobs in February and is negotiating with St. Christopher's Hospital for Children to assume inpatient treatment now provided at Temple Children's.

Campbell said his work would strengthen Temple's efforts to improve its finances. "We clearly recognized a need, because of the challenges we're facing, to work incredibly well together because we're going to have to be the A team . . . going forward," he said.

Contact staff writer Stacey Burling at 215-854-4944 or sburling@phillynews.com.

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