DES MOINES, Iowa-Some 27 rural Iowa hospitals are expected to benefit from a $3.5 million federal grant to help pay for linking the hospitals into a statewide telemedicine network. The project will allow physicians in rural facilities to consult electronically on X-rays, pathology and other medical services with specialists in urban facilities. The grant was awarded to the Midwest Rural Telemedicine Consortium, a group developed by Des Moines-based Mercy Health Center of Central Iowa and Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Sisters of Mercy Health Corp., which owns five hospitals in Iowa. "This is the first step in linking a network of rural hospitals across the state to the Iowa Communications Network," said Tom Reitinger, president of Mercy Hospital Medical Center in Des Moines. Iowa's 120 hospitals were given approval earlier this year by the Iowa Legislature to tap a statewide fiber-optic network for telemedicine purposes. Mercy Hospital Medical Center and North Iowa Mercy Health Center in Mason City will be "hub" hospitals in the MRTC project. The grant will be disbursed over three years.
MINNEAPOLIS-HealthSystem Minnesota has named James Reinertsen, M.D., 47, as its chief executive officer. Dr. Reinertsen served as co-president during HealthSystem Minnesota's first year with Robert Galloway, who is retiring. The system's board said Mr. Galloway's retirement opened an opportunity to simplify its governance structure "under a single CEO position and expedite integration of hospital and clinic services." HealthSystem Minnesota, formed in June 1993 through the affiliation of Park Nicollet Medical Center and Methodist Hospital, is also the parent company for Methodist Hospital Foundation and HSM Associates, a for-profit organization that provides management and support services to physicians.
EUCLID, Ohio-Meridia Health System has filed suit to force the University Mednet physician group to refer patients to its Meridia Euclid Hospital, a suburban Cleveland facility. The 120-physician group decided to halt referrals to Meridia Euclid this summer. The group is owned by University Hospitals, which is competing with Meridia for physician allegiance. Restricting referrals will give patients "service at a cost they want to pay," said Malcolm Henoch, M.D., University Mednet's vice president of professional affairs. Since May 26, Meridia Euclid has collected 10,000 signatures and 10,000 letters, conducted a rally, and run print ads featuring Euclid Mayor David Lynch-all in a plea to "save" Meridia Euclid. Meridia also made what it termed generous offers to some University Mednet physicians for their affiliation. The 371-bedMeridia Euclid could be forced to cut services, said spokeswoman Mary Jo Weber. In the suit, filed in Cuyahoga County Court, Meridia charges University Hospitals is interfering with its contract with HMO Health Ohio, whose subscribers could be forced to change physicians in order to use Euclid Meridia.