Hospital money woes impacts medical college - WSMV Channel 4

Hospital money woes impacts medical college

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Big changes could be coming soon to a Nashville hospital - changes that will impact much more than the patients.

Students at Meharry Medical College officially began their academic year Monday with that difficult reality in mind.

By the end of the year, cuts at Nashville General Hospital could put an end to its on-campus hospital.

The move would mean drastic, devastating changes for them before their education ever really begins.

Aside from the usual excitement at this year's convocation ceremony, there is an uneasy feeling among students about the future of Meharry Medical College.

"Oh, it would be detrimental," said one student.

At Meharry, students get the medical experience they need to graduate on-campus at Metro Nashville General Hospital.

The partnership has been in place for 18 years and it's served two purposes - patients, primarily low-income and many without insurance, get help, and the students get specific training with a unique population.

"We get an experience we can't get anywhere else," said the student.

But the hospital is facing major funding problems.

Nashville General's board hired a consulting firm to try and figure out a way to stay afloat.

The consultants came up with five options, and they don't look good.

On the list, one option is to shut down the hospital. Another option that was less drastic but still extensive is to get rid of long-term care.

If that happens, it will have devastating consequences for medical students. They may have to go out of Nashville to get their medical experience, and it's possible they could have to go out of state.

The reason - students would be competing with other Nashville medical schools so there may not be room at other hospitals.

"We think it would be very unfortunate if we were put in a situation where our students were forced to scatter around the country," said Dr. Wayne J. Riley, president/CEO of Meharry Medical College.

The other impact would be many patients would be forced to find healthcare somewhere else.

The college is looking for another way to keep the hospital and its current services.

"The best option would be for the hospital to partner with a major player in town," said Riley.

Without another solution, students, many of whom came from other states to learn in Nashville, could be traveling somewhere else by next year.

Nashville General's board is holding two more public meetings about the options for the hospital. The next meeting is Thursday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. at Hadley Park.

A decision on the hospital's status could be made by late December.

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