Instead of trying to back away from Nashville’s commitment to fund a public hospital, the city is now on a path to increase its contribution. Mayor John Cooper’s budget proposal includes $49 million for Metro General — a 14% increase.
“It’s a show of support and acknowledgment that we are actually doing what we should be doing here as a health care delivery system,” says CEO Joseph Webb. “So we’re very pleased with the support from the mayor’s office.”
Under Webb’s tenure, the hospital has even survived threats of closure by former Mayor Megan Barry, who argued the city could no longer afford to subsidize a hospital. When Karl Dean was mayor, the hospital faced regular budget shortfalls after having its budget cut.
While Nashville General still operates an emergency department and intensive care unit, its patient volume makes it the least busy hospital in the city. It has refocused on primary care and chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.
The hospital opened an off-site clinic on Charlotte Pike in 2019. Because of its success, another clinic will be opened on Clarksville Pike next year, meant to be more accessible to North Nashville residents and to direct patients to the main campus when hospital care is needed — much like private health systems do.
The funding boost also comes in the early stages of discussion about building a new hospital. The city’s lease with Meharry Medical College runs out in 2024. So executives have begun scouting sites for new construction in Bordeaux, Whites Creek and MetroCenter.
The 14% budget increase is welcomed by many members of the Metro Council, and they will have the final say when they vote on the budget in June.