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Tangipahoa Parish Council Urged to Reappoint Dr. James Nelson to North Oaks Board of Commissioners

February 13, 2013

Tangipahoa Parish Council
P. O. Box 215
Amite, LA 70422

Dear Councilmen:

On behalf of North Oaks Health System Board of Commissioners, please accept this letter as our formal request to reappoint James L. Nelson, MD to our Board. Dr. Nelson was initially appointed to fulfill the unexpired term of Dr. Larry Fambrough which will end April, 2013.

Dr. Nelson has been an integral member of our Board. His medical knowledge and expertise have been invaluable in guiding our System. Dr. Nelson brings a uniqueness to our group with his vast medical background and experiences. He began his career as a General Surgeon in the late 1970’s and retired from private practice in 2003 when he joined North Oaks as its first Chief Medical Officer, a position which he held for four years. Dr. Nelson has a great deal of knowledge about hospital operations and the complexities of healthcare regulations and processes.

For instance, Dr. Nelson led the System’s initial Electronic Health Record (EHR) initiative and selection process and has been an integral part of this federally mandated initiative now being implemented at a cost of $40 million. To lose this expertise and involvement at its most crucial stage (implementation) would have an immeasurable impact. Any industry expert or publication you consult states that the “buy-in” of the Medical Staff is the most important element for achieving a successful implementation and to minimize an already disruptive force to delivery of care. Because of Dr. Nelson’s stature with the Medical Staff, and his commitment to the implementation and its benefits to the patient, Dr. Nelson is a key physician “Champion” for us in our efforts to engage an already busy Medical Staff. Because of who Dr. Nelson is as a professional and a person, he would not abandon the project if taken off of the Board, but his status as a Board Member undoubtedly contributes to his effectiveness in this project and should not be lost.

In addition to the Electronic Health Record mountain we are now climbing, we have health care reform squarely before us, and it hits us harder because of our 75% Medicare/Medicaid patient base; the same patient base that “reform” is directly cutting. Tough questions never before encountered will have to be confronted. Having a trusted, proven community leader who is also a physician is a significant advantage for our community, patients, and physicians when facing these questions and fashioning solutions.

During his almost 35 year career with North Oaks, he served twice as Chief of the Medical Staff and Chairman of numerous committees which include Utilization Review, Surgery Steering, Surgery Department, Infection Control, ICU Department, Bylaws and Credentials. In addition, he served our country as a member of the United States Air Force Reserve Medical Corps where he retired with the rank of Colonel. He initially served in the 60’s, then again in the 90’s when he was deployed in Operation Desert Storm.

James believes strongly in giving back to his community. In addition to his remarkable medical career and contributions, he has served as a board member or chairman of the Hammond Chamber of Commerce, Tangipahoa Area United Way, Downtown Development District, Richard Murphy Hospice Foundation, and an elder in the First Presbyterian Church.

The healthcare industry is very complex, and we need someone who is well versed in its intricacies and offers meaningful and purposeful dialogue in our boardroom. We unanimously believe that person is Dr. James Nelson. His private life, medical career and health care administration experiences are valuable resources when we are traversing these uncharted waters such as the Electronic Health Record, the current version of health care reform, and other pressing challenges facing health systems today.

It is for the reasons enumerated above and the countless other accolades and contributions he has made unselfishly, that we respectfully request you reappoint him and allow our Health System Board to maintain the 40 year tradition of always having a physician on its Board.

Yours truly,

Guy Recotta, Jr.
North Oaks Health System Board of Commissioners