One of Kansas City, Mo.'s largest providers, St. Luke's Health System, said last week that it will join a hospital network forming in the metropolitan area. Its announcement follows weeks of speculation about the future of St. Luke's, which includes a prominent teaching hospital (March 21, p. 8). St. Luke's operates 491-bed St. Luke's Hospital of Kansas City and 147-bed St. Luke's Northland Hospital, which has campuses in Smithville, Mo., and Kansas City. Its board voted March 18 to join the network, called the "beltway alliance" by local news organizations. Last week, executives of the seven providers now involved signed a "memorandum of understanding" to develop the network with "due diligence." They expect to select a name shortly.
The deadly tornado that swept through three Southern states last week tore the roof off a nursing home in Guntersville, Ala., sending 29 residents to 90-bed Guntersville-Arab Medical Centerfor shelter. No other damage was reported by healthcare facilities in Alabama or Georgia, where the twisters caused the most damage. Dollar estimates of the damage to the Marshall Manor long-term-care facility in Guntersville were unavailable. Some 38 people were killed by the tornadoes, which also hit South Carolina.
The U.S. Justice Department has cleared plans by Houston-area businesses to work together to purchase healthcare services from hospitals and physicians. The Houston Healthcare Purchasing Organization, an affiliate of the Houston Area Healthcare Coalition, has developed a reimbursement schedule for Houston hospitals (Nov. 1, 1993, p. 26). The group, which represents 300,000 covered lives, also is gathering information to measure provider quality. U.S. Assistant Attorney General Anne Bingaman said she viewed the group's effort as "pro-competitive."
MedEcon Services has tapped San Francisco-based McKesson Corp. for a three-year contract to distribute pharmaceuticals to its members. McKesson estimates that its sales under the contract will exceed $100 million in the first year. MedEcon, a Louisville, Ky.-based purchasing group, represents 1,000 hospitals and 3,000 other healthcare providers.
The American Association of Homes for the Aging has changed its name to the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. The AAHSA's House of Delegates approved the change last month. The group represents 5,000 not-for-profit nursing facilities, senior residences and community agencies.
The U.S. Senate has confirmed Michael H. Trujillo, M.D., as director of the Indian Health Service. Dr. Trujillo is the first native American to head the IHS. Dr. Trujillo is area chief medical officer for the Indian Health Service in Portland, Ore. The IHS is the branch of HHS responsible for the delivery of healthcare to 1.3 million of the nation's 2.2 million American Indians and native Alaskans.-Associated Press
Robert L. Biblo, 61, vice president and manager of the Kansas City region of Kaiser Permanente, died March 23 at his son's home in Cleveland after a yearlong bout with cancer. Prior to joining Kaiser, Mr. Biblo for 12 years was president and chief executive officer of Health Insurance Plan of New York, one of the nation's largest operators of HMOs. He also was CEO of Harvard Community Health Plan, Wellesley, Mass., during its first nine years of operation.
Redlands, Calif.-based Pacific Physician Services has signed separate definitive agreements to provide management services for 45-physician River City Medical Group and 80-physician HealthReach Family Care Centers, both Sacramento, Calif.-based primary-care independent practice associations. Terms weren't disclosed. Pacific said its services for the groups will include contracting and support services for information systems, quality and utilization management. Pacific operates 33 multispecialty medical centers serving 272,000 managed-care enrollees in the Southwest and California.