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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dr. Andrew Agwunobi Strikes Again IV

It appears that Dr. Agwunobi's cancer has spread. Dr. Agwunobi has, within the last year, take over as the CEO for the Eastern Washington region of Providence Health Systems. Dr. Agwunobi's first official act as CEO was to announce that cuts would need to be made. This pronouncement was met with fear and trepidation. A few months ago, I described the situation at Sacred Heart Hospital in the Providence Health Systems. (part of Dr. Agwunobi's region)

Following my initial report, this was posted the hospital board of Sacred Heart Hospital, (hit download attachment) one of the hospitals Dr. Agwunobi is responsible for. It addressed my previous post as well as my reporting on Dr. Agwunobi in general. The posting in the hospital refers to my reporting as "untrue" and refers to me as a "disgruntled former medical student". I am of course not now nor have I ever been a medical student. (I would agree with the characterization of disgruntled
but I would call that a lucky guess) While they characterize my reporting as untrue, the post never refutes any of the specifics in any of my pieces on Dr. Agwunobi. Let's put that to the side for a minute.

Dr. Agwunobi characterizes the region of Providence Health Care that he controls as being in dire financial straits and that's why he will have to make significant staff cuts. According to the financial statements filed by Providence Health Care system itself, the hospital had an operating profit of $288 million year ended December 2008. They carried a net loss but that came mostly from losses on investments (almost exclusively bonds and stocks). Given how poor the equity markets performed in 2008, that was to be expected. Furthermore, the hospital was still sitting on $1.95 BILLION in investments as of December 31, 2008. (page 21 of the financial statement) Does this sound like a hospital in dire financial straits?

I spoke with two medical professionals at Sacred Heart and they each described the same environment. It's a non profit hospital acting like a for profit. That's the worst of both worlds. What I mean is that the bottom line comes first. As such, staff is cut and everyone is pushed to the limit. Because everyone there is pushed beyond what is safe, patient care ultimately suffers. As such, the bottom line becomes the most important and only factor in all decisions.That's not merely a semantical point. Sacred Heart is part of the network of hospitals called Providence Health Care. Providence is a non profit hospital. Because it doesn't pay taxes the hospital is supposed to give the tax savings back to the community. That's not what's happening at Sacred Heart Hospital. Instead, the hospital is pocketing massive profits, cutting hospital resources, and forcing doctors to treat more patients than is safe. That is threatening patient care. That's the strategy that Dr. Agwunobi has implemented at the network.

Now, I can confirm from multiple different sources that, at Mt. Carmel in Colville, Wa., describe a similar situation. The administrators there are also being mistreated. There, they're being forced to take pay cuts and mandatory time off without pay and at the same time they also have added duties. On top of this, their IT department has blocked employees from using a google search of Agwunobi from work computers. Most of the staff is afraid for their collective jobs.

It wasn't even a year ago that Dr. Andrew Agwunobi took over as the CEO of the Eastern Washington region of the Providence Health Care System. This is a hospital system that has just under $2 billion in INVESTMENTS as of its last financial statement. Yet, he claims that it's struggling so much that he needs to make budget cuts. That's what he's doing and it's clear that all over every hospital that he controls, the employees are near panic. They're afraid for their jobs. Everyone is made to work twice as hard with fewer staff, less hours, and less money. All because you are being lied to and told the hospital is struggling when it's really flush with cash.

At the same time, the employees are clearly doing searches of his name and winding up at my site. That's how I've found out almost everything there. I've been tracking Dr. Agwunobi's career since 2001. That's when he took over as CEO of South Fulton Hospital. That's a small Atlanta hospital that serves most the poor. In two years, that hospital went from passing to failing JCAHO (a hospital governing body) reviews. Though, they didn't do that before Dr. Agwunobi was able to leave South Fulton and move to Grady Hospital. As such he left, and months later the next report came in as a failure.

He moved to Grady Hospital and a year later, HHS issued a report that concluded.

the conditions at Grady Hospital pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of the patients.

That stunning conclusion cost Dr. Agwunobi his job. To be more accurate, it caused him to take the fall for much bigger corruption that he was only one part of. In fact, he was told to take the fall in return for a cushy job as COO of St. Joseph's Hospital System in California that was arranged by then Grady Hospital board chairman, Robert Brown.

He spent a year at St. Joseph's and then moved to the board of Wellcare. He spent about six months there, cashed in his options of about $1 million. Then, he moved to the Florida AHCA (Agency for Health Care Administration), part of Florida's Department of Health. His first significant act not more than months into his job was being among ten state and federal agencies to raid WellCare. The stock dropped off a cliff after the raid. Of course, Dr. Agwunobi had already cashed out his options. He only survived about a year in part from the controversy surrounding this set of events. Now, he's spent nearly a year at the Eastern part of Washington of Providence Health Systems.

Things have gotten so bad that recruiters have set their eyes on the hospital and part of their pitch is to ask in shock.

What's happening at Providence?!

Of course, the most important thing is that this sort of mismanagement also becomes a time bomb or a cancer even. It's only a matter of time before every part of the hospital that he controls becomes infected with working conditions that are unbearable for everyone there. Right now, the upper management, which hired him despite having to know everything I recounted (r at least they should have), is calling anyone that leaves a "Rat." It's only a matter of time before people start dying in these conditions. Dr. Andrew Agwunobi is a menace and he must be stopped.


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog today, the day Dr Agwunobi "accepted" a new position with Providence in Renton, WA. In the letter, he claims that he will now have leadership roles in all Providence hospitals, in five different states. This is coming just days after an article was published in our local newspaper about the 30% pay cut the Sacred Heart ED doctors were being given. Of course, the leaders of Sacred Heart claim this article is a complete lie. They do admit there will be a 30% reduction in reimbursement to the MDs, but the cause is the losses Providence hospitals are dealing with. Some of the Sacred Heart ER MDs have lost over 60% of their income over the past 3 or 4 years thanks to the decisions made by the leadership of Providence Spokane. The upper level management continue to get their high wages and bonuses, while the lower level management and floor staff have been getting pay cuts, reduced hours, increased responsibilities and many other negatives to deal with the "financial crisis" Providence is facing. Strangely, Providence is continuing to buy up other medical, long-term care & lab facilities all over the area. Expansion is back in the plans for parts of the hospital. The new logo for the management of Providence is "If you don't like the decisions we (management) have made, you should look for a job somewhere else." Personally, I don't know Dr. Agwunobi's accountability for these terrible changes we have faced, but I do know he was in charge when they occurred. I know many of the hospitals are still profiting yearly, but claim the lower staff numbers are because "some of our smaller hospitals are suffering financially, and we need to make up for those losses." I'll be curious to see what happens if/when the economy recovers. Competition for jobs will be put back in Providence's face, and they will be losing hundreds of employees.