Healthcare Business News

Regional News/Midwest: Acension Health launches statewide home-care provider in Michigan, and other news

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: November 17, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

GRAND BLANC, Mich.—Ascension Health's Michigan division announced the formation of Reverence Home Health & Hospice, a statewide home-care provider. The plan includes 15 Ascension hospitals in Michigan and other facilities from Borgess Health, Genesys Health System, St. John Providence Health System, St. Joseph Health System and St. Mary's of Michigan. St. Mary's is the only Ascension ministry in Michigan that lacks an existing home-care agency, but it will offer health and hospice services when Reverence launches. Officials plan on launching Reverence on Jan. 1, and it will be headquartered at Genesys' offices in Grand Blanc. Linda Young, 52, was named Reverence's president. Young is the former administrator and chief nursing officer at Borgess VNA Home Health & Hospice, Kalamazoo, Mich. “In preparation for healthcare reform and population health management, the primary focus of Reverence Home Health & Hospice will be to ensure seamless transitions of care and services between our health ministries' hospitals and home-care settings,” Dr. Patricia Maryland, the Michigan market leader for Ascension and president and CEO of St. John Providence in Warren, Mich., said in a news release. “It will connect patients, families and physicians in the most profound ways, and ultimately result in the highest quality of care and experiences—all in the most cost-effective manner that comes from leveraging the collaboration of our Michigan health ministries.”

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NAPERVILLE, Ill.—Edward Hospital will open two clinics inside suburban Chicago Jewel-Osco grocery stores. The clinics will be open seven days a week and will be inside the Jewel-Osco pharmacies; they will offer routine treatments and preventive care without an appointment. Family nurse practitioners and physician assistants from Edward Medical Group will provide care at the selected stores, in Naperville and Romeoville, Ill. Edward Medical Group employs 45 board-certified family-practice and internal-medicine physicians. “We're proud to partner with Jewel-Osco and provide high-quality healthcare that's convenient and that fits the busy lifestyles and schedules that many of us have,” Edward Health Ventures President Bill Kottmann said in a news release. Edward Hospital is a 330-bed facility about 30 miles west of Chicago.

Dr. Eric Whitaker, University of Chicago Medicine
Whitaker says he plans to “seek a new venture in the public health field.”
CHICAGO—Dr. Eric Whitaker, a friend of President Barack Obama, plans to leave his executive position at University of Chicago Medicine and will “seek a new venture in the public health field,” the institution said last week. He is departing March 31 as executive vice president of strategic affiliations and associate dean of community-based research, according to a statement. Whitaker, 47, will be on the board of the Urban Health Initiative, U of C Medicine's effort to improve health and healthcare access on the city's South Side. “Eric has been a driving force behind the Urban Health Initiative,” Dr. Kenneth Polonsky, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago and dean of the Biological Sciences Division and Pritzker School of Medicine, said in a memo to employees. “His contributions will continue to be felt for years to come,” Polonsky's memo said. “Details of the next chapter of his career are being finalized,” the U of C Medicine statement said. A national search will be conducted to replace Dr. Whitaker. “I am a South Sider by birth and by choice,” Whitaker said in the statement. “I maintained my connection to the community by earning my medical degree from the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine, then by working at Cook County Hospital. I intend to keep faith with my commitment to the community and to the challenge of providing innovative solutions to public health issues.”

—Crain's Chicago Business

JOPLIN, Mo.—Freeman Health System agreed to pay $9.3 million to settle potential liabilities after it self-reported compensation arrangements with 70 doctors going back a full decade that may have created illegal financial incentives to refer patients to the hospital. According to the signed settlement agreement and a related news release from the U.S. Justice Department, the two-hospital system disclosed that between 1999 and 2009, it gave doctors incentive pay based on the Medicare revenue generated from their referrals for diagnostic testing and other health services at Freeman clinics. The conduct was discovered by an internal audit and disclosed by Freeman officials to federal investigators, the system said in a statement. The Stark law makes it illegal to pay doctors in ways that could induce referrals, unless the activity is covered by one of several specific exceptions. The settlement agreement said the system “did not contest liability” under the Stark law. However, the settlement is not an admission of liability under the related False Claims Act, which makes it illegal to send erroneous bills to Medicare, and which carries steep financial penalties. An e-mailed statement from Freeman President and CEO Paula Baker noted that the system will not have to enter into a corporate integrity agreement as a result of the settlement. An “internal review discovered that we had inadvertently made errors in the way we structured compensation agreements for some office-based physicians and that those agreements did not meet very complex federal guidelines,” Baker's statement said.

SYLVANIA, Ohio—The ProMedica health system and HCR ManorCare entered a joint venture to build a 120-bed skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility on the campus of ProMedica Flower Hospital in Sylvania. The project, expected to be complete in 2015, would replace ProMedica Lake Park, an existing skilled-nursing facility on that campus. ProMedica said in a news release that the agreement calls for a quality committee with medical staff from both organizations that would focus on reducing preventable and unnecessary hospitalizations.The project requires regulatory approval from the Ohio Health Department, which is expected to take six to 12 months. ProMedica declined to disclose the cost of the project and the financial terms of the joint venture.

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