OTTAWA, Ill.-A $15.8 million expansion and renovation project has begun at 155-bed Community Hospital of Ottawa. Hospital executives said the project was needed to alleviate crowding in the emergency room space and to meet the increased demand for outpatient services. About 48,000 square feet will be new construction, including expansion of the emergency, outpatient, rehabilitation, laboratory, medical records and radiology departments. Meanwhile, 30,000 square feet will be renovated for several areas, including outpatient clinics, respiratory care, pharmacy and plant operations. Financing for the project comes from tax-exempt bonds and the hospital's contributions from its depreciation account.
ST. PAUL, Minn.-Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota will become an electronic claims clearinghouse for six Minnesota health plans and another in Wisconsin. The seven health plans will move from paper claims to electronic processing in a move that could save them as much as $2 million annually. "Instead of sending seven different claims to seven different health plans through the mail, healthcare providers will send their claims to one source over a toll-free telephone line-saving both time and money," said Al Anderson, the Blues' vice president of electronic data interchange services. "Each payer will then receive its claims and handle them independently." Along with the Minnesota Blues, the health plans involved are Northwestern National Life's Health Management Corp. of Minneapolis; PreferredOne of Minneapolis; Federated Mutual Insurance Co. of Owatonna, Minn.; Employers Health Insurance, Green Bay, Wis.; IMCare, Grand Rapids, Minn.; and First Plan of Two Harbors, Minn. "We will be collecting the claims, processing them and electronically sending them on to the plans," said Karl Oestreich, a spokesman for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. "The other plans will do the actual claims processing, but we will be putting them in the standard form." Through the Blues' clearinghouse service, some 860,000 claims will be electronically processed each year.