- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005

The new chief executive officer of Prince George’s County’s largest health system said yesterday that officials are exploring ways to lift the company out of debt, including seeking new corporate affiliations with a university medical center.

“Slowly but surely, we’re digging ourselves out of the financial hole we’re in,” said G.T. Dunlop Ecker, named last month the chief executive officer for Dimensions Healthcare System. He had served in an interim capacity since March.

The nonprofit company, which runs Prince George’s Hospital Center, Laurel Hospital and the Bowie Health Campus, is coming off a difficult past few months, during which a government panel criticized its finances.

A panel, formed by county and Maryland officials, earlier this year recommended the county fire Dimensions, citing its mounting financial losses. The panel also said the health system needs tens of millions of dollars in short-term funding.

Prince George’s officials say they still are studying the recommendation to decide whether to cut ties with Dimensions, which manages the health facilities through a lease deal with the county government.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ecker said he is working to improve Dimensions’ financial situation. He wants to move toward establishing an affiliation with a university medical center, such as Johns Hopkins University or the University of Maryland.

Mr. Ecker met privately Tuesday with Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson, who also has cited concern about the company’s losses.

He characterized the meeting with Mr. Johnson as a friendly, get-acquainted session and said he is working to establish “cordial relationships” with other county officials.

“My message to [Mr. Johnson] was that I’m a professional manager trying to make things happen,” Mr. Ecker said.

John Erzen, a spokesman for Mr. Johnson, said only that the talks covered “a wide range of issues” regarding Dimensions and that there will be more meetings and discussions.

Before coming to Dimensions, Mr. Ecker worked for the Tennessee-based hospital management company Brim Healthcare Inc. as an interim chief executive at hospitals in Arizona, Florida and New York.

He also was president of Loudoun Hospital Center from 1994 to 1999 and executive vice president and president of Washington Hospital Center in the District from 1982 to 1990.

Robert Malson, president of the D.C. Hospital Association, said yesterday that Mr. Ecker’s experience running urban hospitals can help Dimensions.

“The problems he’s facing in Prince George’s are some of the same ones he had to contend with as president of Washington Hospital Center,” Mr. Malson said. “He’ll be able to hit the ground running.”


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