- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A consulting firm for Prince George’s Hospital Center is in line to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars more than its original contract stipulated as it decides how many workers to lay off at the financially troubled hospital.

Cambio Health Solutions, the Tennessee-based firm hired in August, is expected to receive as much as $500,000 in fees on top of the $2 million it is being paid to improve the hospital’s bottom line, officials said.

Hospital employees will find out as early as today whether they will keep their jobs at the Cheverly hospital.

Dimensions Healthcare System, which operates the hospital, has been so close to collapse in recent years that state and county officials have funded a $45 million bailout package for the nonprofit, which called for the hiring of a turnaround company for $2 million.

The deal to pay Cambio additional fees was approved by the board of directors of Dimensions, which also runs Laurel Regional Hospital, Bowie Health Center and nursing homes in Brentwood and Cheverly, officials said.

Officials at Dimensions did not comment yesterday.

Thomas W. Singleton, Cambio’s chief executive officer, said the company is being asked to do more work than it had planned when it was hired in August.

He said the board of directors has asked Cambio to provide an interim chief financial officer and an interim chief executive officer while the firm continues its work through early next year.

“The board asked us to put in an interim CEO and an interim CFO and that was the only change in the scope of the original contract,” Mr. Singleton said. “That was something that was not originally contemplated. But we have to be flexible.”

Sources familiar with the decision say the 11-member board disagreed on whether to pay the additional fees, and raised concerns about whether giving more money to outside consultants could mean more job cuts at the hospital.

Concerns also focused on a memorandum of understanding to hire the turnaround firm capping payments at $2 million.

Mr. Singleton said the additional money to Cambio won’t mean more job cuts, and that it won’t play a role in the many cost-saving recommendations the firm plans to make at Dimensions.

The additional funds to Cambio are expected to be paid through Dimensions’ operating budget, while money approved in the original $2 million contract comes from the state and county bailout money.

Nelson J. Sabatini, who recently resigned as secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, this week confirmed Dimensions’ decision to pay more money to Cambio.

“It’s their responsibility to effectively manage the contract,” he said, referring to the Dimensions’ board of directors.

Cambio’s arrival already has forced major changes.

Dimensions’ chief executive officer, Patrick Mutch, and its chief financial officer, Noel Cervino, resigned. They were replaced by two Cambio employees.

Mr. Singleton said his company has not spoken to the board of directors about potential layoffs at Dimensions facilities. “We haven’t discussed that with the board yet, so I really can’t say a whole lot about it,” he said.

County and state officials are hoping Cambio can help resuscitate Dimensions, which lost $4.7 million last year, according to its annual tax return. The health system lost about $43 million from 1999 to 2003, according to a county study.

In addition to weighing job cuts, the firm is charged with reviewing Dimensions’ contracts with numerous vendors. Among the biggest is a multimillion-dollar technology contract with Phoenix Health System, a national health care technology firm based in Montgomery Village.

Phoenix, which recently received a contract extension, employs Derrick Brown, the son of Dimensions board Chairman Calvin Brown, to work at Dimensions on technology and computer-related projects.

Calvin Brown did not return phone calls to his office and the hospital this week on whether he voted to approve the contract employing his son at the hospital. Phoenix officials did not return a call regarding the contract.

Earlier this year, Calvin Brown leveled ethics charges against Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson, saying Mr. Johnson withheld $5 million to Dimensions until it hired veteran hospital administrator K. Singh Taneja. Last week, the State’s Attorney’s Office concluded that the charges were unfounded.

Sources said Phoenix subcontracts some of its Dimensions contract work to Ingenium Corp., which employs as its vice president Glenda Wilson, the chief of staff for former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne K. Curry, who appointed Calvin Brown to the Dimensions board.

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