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Dandridge, Tennessee

March 05, 2012

Recent Issues Raise The Question "Is It Good?"
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Are Commission Concerns Valid?

Health Management Associates, which operates the Tennova brand, including Jefferson Memorial Hospital, has recently come under fire as the result of allegations of improprieties in Medicare billing, and inquiries from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General concerning physician referrals and emergency room management. Health Management Associates, which is based in Florida, has also been plagued with reported intention of a Class Action law suite from investors that believe they were intentionally mislead regarding HMA’s financial performance and growth, hospital admissions rates and compliance with applicable laws. To further HMA’s troubles, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that a former employee, who has alleged that HMA had submitted fraudulent billings to Medicare, has filed a lawsuit for being wrongfully terminated because of his allegations. The former employee contends that he is highly

experienced in dealing with compliance issues and that he was terminated the day he informed HMA that he would report his findings of fraudulent activity to the Government. A representative from HMA issued in response that the employee’s dismissal was due to his refusal to return documents that were needed to answer a federal subpoena. In a statement released by HMA, they acknowledged that their Lead Council had exited the Company. This came on the heels of the departure of the SR. Vice President and Division President of HMA who was in charge of the newly acquired local facilities known as Tennova, as well as the CEO of Physicians Regional (previously known as St. Mary’s). The recent departures, as well as the alleged legal issues, have played havoc with HMA stock prices in recent months. Health Management Associates has denied any wrong doing and has stated that the most recent departure of Lead Council is not related to any allegations of misdoings. Health Management Associates is a for profit company that currently holds the lease to Jefferson Memorial Hospital. HMA acquired Mercy properties in October 2011, and the Jefferson Memorial Hospital Lease was approved by the Jefferson County Commission and the Jefferson City Council. Under the current lease agreement, Jefferson County and Jefferson City will receive property taxes from HMA. The determination for use of those property taxes has recently been the source of debate in the Jefferson County Commission meetings. Previously, the funds were earmarked for highway improvement, however the most recent consideration is as a component in the funding formula for bond issuance for renovation to Jefferson County High School.

Early Voting Numbers Up In Final Days


Jefferson County closed early Voting on February 28, 2012. While total ballots cast trailed the 2008 numbers, there was a significant increase in voters during the last two days of Early Voting. Monday, February 27, 2012 saw 198 ballots cast, while the final day of voting brought in 343 voters. A total early vote of 1703 did not meet the 2010 total that was cast in the 2008 primary. The March 6, 2012 Tennessee Republican Primary is shaping up to carry more National weight than was previously assigned to it by political strategist. Recent days have brought candidates for the Republican nomination for President to the region, seeking to make ground in Tennessee. There has yet to be a clear front runner in the Republican Party, causing States that generally receive little attention, because of the timing of their primaries, to receive serious attention from front running candidates, making them a battle ground. Several recent polls, including the MTSU poll, found that Santorum appears to be the Republican of choice in Tennessee. Among Republicans, Santorum leads Romney, his closest competitor by nearly 21 points, according to the MTSU poll. Santorum’s ultra conservative stance on many social issues, as well as the separation of Church and State, appear to play well to the largely conservative Christian voters that are predominate in the State. Polling showed that State Democrats prefer Romney as the Republican candidate, while Romney and Santorum are in a statistical dead heat among all Tennessee voters (no separation of political party), including Independents. Fortunately for Santorum, Republicans will cast the deciding votes during the Primary on March 6, which currently puts Santorum at the head of the pack. Interestingly, though Santorum’s conservative views are resonating with Tennessee voters, they are not enamored with either extreme of the more vocal political interest groups. Only one in four Tennessee residents polled had a favorable view of the Tea Party, with an even more dismal one in seven having a favorable view of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. The new voter ID law has the support of the majority of Tennessee residents polled, with 82% supporting the new requirement. Current polling numbers show that Tennessee will likely be colored red when the electoral map goes up in November, as President Obama has a 51% disapproval rating among residents polled. Tennessee is an open Primary State, meaning that any registered voter, not just Republicans, can cast a ballot in the Republican primary.

Teachers First Amendment Rights Protected by Legislation

On Thursday, House Republicans took a strong step to protect the First Amendment rights of school personnel, including teachers and administrators. Representative Phillip Johnson (R—Pegram) sought to ensure educators can participate in programs that take place either before or after school hours and do not interfere with their school duties. The legislation passed 93-0. The companion version of the bill is currently in the Senate Education Committee.

Flu Season

Influenza Cases On The Rise in East Tennessee

Jefferson County, as well as other counties that are considered part of the East Tennessee Region, are seeing an increase in reported incidents of influenza. According to information released by the Tennessee Department of Health, the East Tennessee Region experienced a 3% increased of Influenza Like Illness (LIL) during week eight of 2012. The upswing of the number of cases of Influenza Like Illness reported in the area makes Jefferson and surrounding counties the most influenza heavy area of the State for the last full week of February. The East Tennessee Region also reported a significantly higher number of patients seen overall, for both influenza and non influenza like illness, as was evident by recent closing of neighboring county schools for illness. The Center for Disease Control lists Tennessee as having sporadic influenza outbreak, while many States that are adjacent to Tennessee are showing a more dense coverage of illness. The influenza season generally peaks in January or February, however it is not uncommon for it to reach its most widespread as late as May. This year the influenza season appears to have a slightly later debut than in some recent years. The Center for Disease Control has a high level of confidence that the vaccines for the 2011-2012 season will be on target with the strain of illness and vaccinations are still available. The Center for Disease Control advises to see a physician as soon as flu symptoms are present. Certain medications can shorten the life and severity of influenza, however the window for effectiveness is short. The CDC also recommends that anyone showing symptoms of influenza should refrain from contact with the general public, to prevent passing the virus. The CDC and the Tennessee Department of Health are currently tracking influenza cases in the State and across the Nation. A physician can confirm suspected cases of influenza with a simple nasal swab test.

Saint's Heart Stolen

By: Jake Depew, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer

On Sunday, March 4, 2012, the heart of Saint Laurence O’Toole was reported as stolen from Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. O’Toole served as Dublin’s archbishop from 1162 to 1180, and was a central mediator between the warring Gaelic and Nordic factions in the region at the time. The heart was the church’s most prized religious artifact. The heart was secured in a wooden box, shaped like a heart, which was sealed inside of an iron cage. The cage was secured to the wall of a chapel dedicated to the saint’s memory. Authorities have stated that the theft took place on Saturday, when the thief cut through two iron bars and pried the cage open. The heart has no conventional economic value, although it is an incredibly significant cultural treasure. The theft marks another instance of religious artifacts being stolen in Ireland. In 2011, three artifacts that were believed to be fragments of the cross on which Jesus was crucified were stolen from Holy Cross Abbey in County Tipperary. The artifacts were recovered, although nobody was ever arrested for the crime. In January of 2012, the ornate container that housed the jawbone of Saint Brigid was stolen from a church in northern Dublin: as it had been removed for cleaning, the jawbone was not inside at the time of the theft. As of this writing no arrests have been made, although police are scanning video footage of the church during the hours the theft is believed to have occurred. 

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March 05, 2012 Go To Page

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