Norreida Reyes has done a terrific job in taking some very modest resources and putting out a very interesting newspaper, Saratoga Today. She recently did an interview with Angelo Calbone who is the CEO of Saratoga Hospital. The interview was quite revealing but not in ways that Mr. Calbone may have hoped for.
Doublespeak is language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., “downsizing” for layoffs, “servicing the target” for bombing), in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning (for example, naming a state of war “peace”). In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth. Doublespeak is most closely associated with political language.
From the Times Union:
The proposal would give Albany Med authority over Saratoga Hospital’s budgets and strategic plans, the hiring and firing of Saratoga Hospital’s chief executive, incurrence of debt, and hospital policies and procedures. Each health system would have representation on the other’s board.
From The Albany Business Review:
Under the agreement, Albany Med would have approval of Saratoga’s budgets and operating plans, hospital policies and procedures and contracts for clinical and management services. Albany Med would also have authority to appoint or remove the CEO, according to information submitted to the health department.
The following is from an interview the CEO, Angelo Calbone gave to Saratoga Today Newspaper in their July 1 edition:
Regarding the AMC affiliation, Calbone explained that it was a multi-year process that involved many thorough discussions with the board. “The board has a responsibility to know and understand how this will work,” said Calbone. “We spent upwards of two years in negotiating the specific terms of the relationship, making sure a very high degree of local autonomy and control stays intact.”
Calbone explained that creating a meaningful affiliation is done through a parent model in New York State, and it is how the State Department of Health regulates them. Although the model does list Albany Medical Center as the parent, the terms in detail are unique to this particular affiliation of the two institutions, and not readily apparent in the public eye [my emphasis added].
“So, internally we knew that is how this structure would work, but ‘parent’ is just a term that is used to describe how relationships are built, and doesn’t reflect the years of negotiations on specific terms. What I believe has happened is that individuals have probably looked at the regs as they are stated in somewhat generic form as to how parent relationships in hospitals work in the State of New York, and took it literally,” [My emphasis: I mean why would we take the regulations’ language literally?] Calbone added. “But unless they were in the room with the board, they won’t know the details. This meets the spirit of those regulations, but leaves a high level of local control and autonomy in place.”
The reason they had to use the parent model goes back to anti-trust laws and other legalities that protect the American public. “We are a business,” said Calbone, “and we cannot work closely as two institutions on regional planning, working to create programs, sharing of information and movement of potential medical education back and forth; you just can’t do some of those things without a relationship because it would break the law. You must connect yourself sufficiently to do it in New York State, and that’s called a parent model.”
Calbone said unequivocally that Saratoga Hospital remains a licensed hospital, which by its nature requires a number of responsibilities to be maintained by the local board. He confirmed that the parent, AMC, would have to approve the local board members.
Although it is a confidential agreement, Calbone could say, however, that the board members put before AMC would first be recruited, interviewed, and vetted by the local board before they are put forward for action by the parent. “Also, they can’t be denied and replaced by other candidates,” said Calbone. “They can only come through the local process of the local board. You wouldn’t know that unless you were part of the negotiations.”
For Calbone’s role, the local board can unilaterally dismiss any CEO they don’t find acceptable, but in choosing a new one, it will be done collaboratively. He said the “parent model” term has been over-interpreted as too dominant, but emphasized that the standard written into regulations [JK: Oh those pesky regulations again] don’t reflect the very unique relationship established between the institutions that is very respectful of the history of the hospital and the value the local board brings to oversee the operations.
“We weren’t forced to do this,” said Calbone. “The local board felt this was the best time to move ahead and it would be helpful to us and our patients. There is grave risk to institutions over the next five years and we choose to take this time to do this while we are successful.”