Tennessee hospital defers marketing contracts after controversy

The board of Nashville (Tenn.) General Hospital has deferred a vote on new marketing contracts after a controversy over bidding and the company's owner, Tennessee Lookout reported.

Community Health Marketing, which was co-founded by former Nashville Councilman Jerry Maynard, had been seeking contracts with the public hospital for $39,000 per month, with a clause allowing it to bill $160 an hour for work beyond 36 hours a month, according to the July 28 story. The firm's $30,000-a-month deals for similar work expired June 30. But the board delayed the vote after its attorney suggested the contracts be competitively bid.

"Why wasn't there an RFP?" one board member asked, according to the news outlet. Hospital representatives told the board that outside counsel advised them the contracts fell under a "professional services" exception to competitive bidding.

In 2018, board members accused the hospital of secretly entering into a $150,000 agreement with Mr. Maynard's firm. The board subsequently opted to review any hospital contract of $50,000 or more, the Lookout reported.

Mr. Maynard contended his company has boosted the hospital and its CEO's social media presences, given media training, and gotten the hospital news coverage, according to the story.

“We've been quite effective in moving the needle regarding the government and community," he told the board, per the Lookout. "When we started in 2018, the majority of our patient population was uninsured. Today the majority is insured … we are moving the needle."

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