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Regional News/Midwest: University of Missouri opens $190 million expansion to University Hospital, and other news

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: April 27, 2013 - 12:01 am ET

COLUMBIA, Mo.—The University of Missouri Health System recently opened a $190 million expansion to University Hospital. The 310,500-square-foot addition includes a 100,000-square-foot replacement for its Ellis Fischel Cancer Center on two of the towers' eight floors. The building has 90 private patient rooms, six operating rooms, 25 pre-procedure rooms and 18 post-procedure rooms. The building also houses a 7,000-square-foot pharmacy. Plans call for six additional operating rooms for the future. Officials have applied for LEED Silver certification for the hospital, which includes 596 window panels for natural light and three green roofs. The system broke ground on the project in 2009, upgrading a facility that opened in 1956, and financed the work with a mix of operating reserves, tax-exempt bonds and philanthropy.

—Ashok Selvam

COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that sympathetic statements by a doctor over a patient's unexpected medical outcome can't be admitted as evidence in medical malpractice cases filed after a law intended to outlaw their use went into effect in 2004. In a unanimous decision, justices reversed an appeals court ruling that a “medical apology” should have been admitted in a case filed in 2007 because the doctor's statement was made in 2001, before the law went into effect. Justices said lawmakers were “clear and unambiguous” that the prohibition applied to all suits filed after the effective date of Sept. 13, 2004, regardless of the date of the medical conduct in question. The law prohibited introduction of sympathetic statements or gestures made by a healthcare provider in any lawsuit brought by an alleged victim of an unanticipated outcome of medical care. The case involved complications in the gall bladder surgery of Portage County resident Jeanette Johnson. A month after her surgery, Johnson returned to the hospital because of complications resulting from a bile-duct injury that occurred during surgery, one of the procedure's known risks. While Johnson was upset and emotional, Smith took her hand and attempted to calm her by saying, “I take full responsibility for this. Everything will be OK.” Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger wrote for the majority that Smith's gesture “is precisely the type of evidence that (the statute) was designed to exclude as evidence of liability in a medical-malpractice case.”

—Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa—Iowa Health System abandoned its geographically apt name for UnityPoint Health. The switch comes after the health system, which owns or manages 20 Iowa hospitals and another two in Illinois, began to consolidate its nine physician groups in 2012 and sought to brand doctors and hospitals under a single name, said Bill Leaver, UnityPoint CEO. The newly created UnityPoint Clinic will include roughly 900 providers, Leaver said. Consolidation of the physician groups continues and is expected to be complete this year, he said. Leaver described the shift as “purely a change in identity” and UnityPoint's management and operations would remain the same. However, he said, the new brand better reflects the system's goals to better coordinate medical care and bolster the relationship between primary-care doctor and patient, according to focus group research. Leaver said that during the past four years, the system has sought to overhaul its healthcare financing and delivery to promote closer care coordination by primary-care providers and stronger connections between patient and doctors. The health system includes one of Medicare's first accountable care organizations, which launched in January 2012 under the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation's Pioneer program. Leaver said early results show the system has reduced repeated emergency room visits and the number of patients who return to the hospital shortly after leaving. UnityPoint Health is Iowa's largest health system and reported income of $37.5 million on revenue of $2 billion for the first nine months of last year, according to the most recent financial statements available.

—Melanie Evans

MADISON, Wis.—SSM Health Care, St. Louis, agreed to purchase Dean Health Systems, a physician group headquartered in Madison with more than 60 clinics, most of them in Wisconsin. SSM and Dean already jointly own Dean Health Plan, an insurance company established in 1983. The sides plan on closing the deal this summer. Financial terms were not disclosed. “This is our opportunity to take the high quality/low cost model that SSM and Dean have developed in south central Wisconsin and expand it throughout the Midwest,” SSM Health Care President and CEO William Thompson said in a news release. The deal requires regulatory approval in Wisconsin. “This transaction is being considered because it would help us become fully integrated and continue delivering value-based care,” Craig Samitt, president and CEO of Dean, said in the release. “For our patients, there would be very few changes, with the potential for many advantages as we strive, during this critical time, to shift the focus of care delivery to higher quality at a greater value.”

—Ashok Selvam

University Hospital's expansion includes 90 private patient rooms and a 7,000-square-foot pharmacy.

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