WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-The merger of Winston-Salem-based Carolina Medicorp and Charlotte, N.C.-based Presbyterian Healthcare was completed three months ahead of schedule on July 1. The target date had been Sept. 30. The merger, which was announced April 24, received its final antitrust clearances last month. The merged system, called Novant Health, includes 726-bed Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem, 457-bed Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, six other hospitals, three long-term-care facilities and Partners National Health Plans of North Carolina, a 175,000-enrollee HMO. The new company has dual headquarters in Winston-Salem and Charlotte. "We will retain medical management in the providers' hands," said Gregory J. Beier, president of Novant's Triad Region. "We'll look to the M.D.'s-not the M.B.A.'s-to develop the best ways to practice medicine."
BRENTWOOD, Tenn.-Brentwood-based American HomePatient announced the acquisition of Paris, Texas-based Independent Medical Supply and Warren, Pa.-based Allegheny Respiratory Associates. The two companies provide home medical equipment and respiratory services in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas. Their combined annual revenues total $3.2 million. American HomePatient said the acquisitions reflect its strategy of expanding regionally in states where it already operates. The company has acquired 13 companies with 32 centers since the beginning of this year. It now operates a total of 315 centers in 33 states.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA-The federal government would increase its share of the District of Columbia's Medicaid budget to 70% from 50% under legislation being considered by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. The proposal, expected to increase the federal government's Medicaid costs by $168 million in federal fiscal 1998, is part of an overall revitalization of the financially strapped district government. The increase in the federal share would be contingent on certification by HHS that the district is improving its Medicaid administration and containing costs.
YUKON, Okla.-A 40-bed hospital with surgery suites and a women's center will be built by Integris Health in Yukon, Integris spokesman Steve Lindley said. The hospital is expected to open in late 1998. "Yukon is the largest city in Oklahoma without a hospital," said Stanley Hupfeld, Integris' president. "We see a need there, a chance to use our resources to help that community and the people in it stay healthy." Integris plans to reduce the number of licensed beds it has at Baptist and Southwest medical centers in Oklahoma City and transfer them to Yukon. The planned hospital would employ about 200 people. The surgery suites would have facilities for outpatient and overnight procedures, mammography and ultrasound facilities, a chest-pain evaluation unit and an eye-care center. The women's center will have rooms for labor and delivery as well as obstetrics and gynecology.
DURANT, Miss.-University Hospital-Durant has contracted to become Mississippi's first community-based outpatient facility to treat veterans and will begin seeing patients July 15. The Durant clinic signed a one-year agreement with G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Veterans Administration Medical Center in Jackson, Miss. Under the agreement, the clinic will see about 200 patients in a five-county area around Durant, said Ron Kirkpatrick, sharing-program manager for the Jackson VA. The Durant facility is owned by University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Many veterans are looking forward to having a clinic nearby. "The way I see it right now, unless I have a big problem, the things they do for me on a regular basis in Jackson can be done right here," said Willie Ammoms, 59, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War. The contract covers checkups, blood testing and other primary-care needs for existing Jackson patients who volunteered for the service. Those in the area new to the VA system or who have special needs will continue to come through Jackson, Kirkpatrick said. The VA will not have to supply staff to the hospital's outpatient clinic, hospital Administrator Bill McKinnon said. A clinic physician and nurse practitioner will see VA patients and enter their records into the VA system by remote computer. "We'll do what we can up here, coordinate it so we don't have to bring people like Mr. Ammons up and down I-55," Kirkpatrick said.
CHARLESTON, W.Va.-West Virginia Gov. Cecil Underwood said a $50,000 grant he approved for Richwood (W.Va.) Area Community Hospital on July 3 will help keep the financially troubled hospital from closing. The hospital, which serves 6,000 people in eastern Nicholas County, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January. The grant is from the Rural Health System Program. The program previously gave the hospital $200,000, and a second $50,000 grant will be given in the next three months, Underwood said. About 75% of the hospital's patients receive Medicare or Medicaid benefits, and another 10% are uninsured. The hospital provides limited hospital care, primary care and emergency care. It also has a partnership with Charleston Area Medical Center, which has given the facility $80,000 in direct support and $150,000 in management and technical aid. Charleston Area Medical also is waiving a $10,000 monthly management fee for six months. In addition, the city of Richwood is giving the hospital $5,000. "While there are no guarantees of success, one thing is sure: Without this grant today, Richwood Area Community Hospital would not be able to provide needed hospital care for eastern Nicholas County much longer," Underwood said.
COLUMBUS, Miss.-Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle's $44 million expansion includes improvements to outpatient facilities, according to Administrator Stuart Mitchell. Dual facilities will serve both inpatients and outpatients. "Outpatients will never get bumped by inpatients," Mitchell said in a civic club speech last month. The construction will add 200,000 square feet to the current 280,000 square-foot outpatient facility. The emergency room will grow by 25,000 square feet to create 41 treatment bays, up from 13. The hospital also is building an $18 million intensive-care unit. Mitchell said the facility also has added almost $16 million in new equipment over the past three years. He said new medical scanners will double the amount of tests the hospital can run and reduce waiting time, especially for emergency-room patients. The hospital employs about 924 people with an annual payroll of $24 million. It hopes to add 100 more employees as construction projects are completed, Mitchell said.
FORT SUPPLY, Okla.-A new 10-mile water line being run from Woodward to Fort Supply will help end water problems for 184-bed Western State Psychiatric Center. The hospital operates an aging plant that brings water from the Fort Supply Reservoir to a state prison and the town of Fort Supply. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has cited the hospital for turbidity violations because minute particles suspended in the water can interfere with disinfection and testing for bacteria. Hospital Executive Director Steve Norwood said last month that tighter EPA standards have cut in half the sediment allowed. He said the water isn't more cloudy and there have been no health problems. Woodward City Manager Gary Lyon said one well pumping four hours a day will supply the water needed by the additions to the line. The new pipe will be run this fall.
JACKSON, Miss.-The Mississippi Association for Home Care has filed a lawsuit against the state's Medicaid program to block reductions in payments for services. The association contends the Medicaid program implemented cost reductions to recoup a $7 million shortfall from 1996. Representing 31 home-care companies, the association now wants the Hinds County Chancery Court to block the rate changes and prevent Medicaid from saving on costs by withholding future payments. The lawsuit also contends the Medicaid program cut some reimbursements to below the costs of services the home-care companies provided. State Medicaid officials said they could not discuss pending litigation.