Parkland CEO meets with community to determine hospital goals

Chelsea Jones | 5/19/2014, 10:34 a.m.
Parkland Health and Hospital System’s new CEO and president, Dr. Fred Cerise, already has his plate full as the new ...
Dr. Frederick Cerise, 51, Parkland’s first new Chief Executive Officer in more than 30 years, is welcomed by the Board of Managers during a press conference, March 24. Parkland Health and Hospital System

The Dallas Examiner

Parkland Health and Hospital System’s new CEO and president, Dr. Fred Cerise, already has his plate full as the new man-in-charge. In March, he attended town hall meetings and listened carefully to community members as they asked questions and shared their concerns regarding Parkland’s future. Dallas County commissioners hosted the meetings, which were held at Friendship-West Baptist Church, Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, Eastfield College-Pleasant Grove Campus, Richardson Civic Center and the Pioneer Event Center.

Last month, Cerise, 51, signed a three-and-a-half year contract to oversee the hospital. It promises him an annual salary of $820,000, as well as $328,000 in incentive pay if he meets certain requirements mandated by the hospital’s board of mangers.

A Louisiana native and internal medicine physician, Cerise was chosen for the job out of three finalists. Before coming to Parkland, he was the associate dean of clinical affairs at Louisiana State University and had previously headed LSU’s statewide public hospital system. Prior to that, he served as secretary for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, in which he supervised Louisiana Medicaid and offices of public health, mental health, addictive disorders and citizens with developmental disabilities.

Cerise mentioned that the points raised during the meetings would help him set specific goals for Parkland and would help shape the hospital services and programs that are to come. One issue raised was that Parkland needed to improve access to health care.

Community members complained of the hospital’s lengthy emergency room waiting times, and stressed the troubles they had in accessing some of its clinics. Some were frustrated by the hospital’s lack of medical specialists and deficiency in offering culturally competent care.

Others questioned how Parkland would update its information services, navigate the Affordable Care Act, offer more mental health programs, and assist the elderly and HIV/AIDS populations. The new CEO, however, admitted that improving access to health care was going to be a challenge, stating that all public health systems in the country had this problem. The problem, he explained, stemmed from having a high demand for services but limited resources.

Another issue was how Parkland was going to maintain its corporate improvement plan. During the hospital’s 2011 evaluation by the Texas Department of State Health Services, federal regulators determined that the hospital had failed to meet nearly a dozen health care standards and was deficient in its patient rights and pain management procedures.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services warned Parkland to shape up by implementing a plan for correction. Otherwise, it threatened that the hospital would risk losing Medicare and Medicaid funding, which makes up nearly half of the hospital’s revenue. Without the funding, the hospital could close.

Furthermore, prior to that, the hospital was under a lot of controversy regarding the death of patient Michael Herrera in its emergency room in 2008. Herrera had gone to the ER complaining of severe pain. Seventeen hours passed before medical personnel tended to him. He died within 45 minutes of receiving medication. Cerise said that the hospital had made improvements since then in terms of patient-care and safety, and was looking to continue.