The 2-year-old joint venture between Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. and Cleveland's Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Health System has been renamed Caritas Healthcare Partnership. The objectives of the change include removing the Columbia name from the partnership's three hospitals and reinforcing their Catholic identity. The partnership includes St. John West Shore Hospital in Westlake, Ohio; St. Vincent Charity Hospital in Cleveland; and Saint Luke's Medical Center in Cleveland. Caritas is the Latin word for charity. The system also adopted a contemporary cross as its graphic identity. It shares the Caritas name with at least three unrelated systems: Boston-based Caritas Christi Health Care System; Caritas Health Services in Louisville, Ky.; and Via Caritas Health System in Wayne, N.J.
The parent foundation of 86-bed MedCenter Hospital in Marion, Ohio, has approved a $12.4 million sale to rival Marion General Hospital, effective Jan. 31. The vote brings to an end 18 months of negotiations during which MedCenter tried unsuccessfully to pursue an alternative sale to Mount Carmel Health System in Columbus, Ohio (Sept. 29, p. 22). MedCenter will be converted to an outpatient facility operated by Marion Health System, a for-profit joint venture of 115-bed Marion General Hospital, Smith Clinic and the Marion Independent Physician Association.
The Federal Trade Commission has cleared the proposed merger of Eastern Maine Healthcare Corp. and 44-bed Inland Hospital in Waterville, Maine. The deal, announced nearly a year ago, would make Inland a part of EMHC, which also owns 344-bed Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor (Jan. 20, p. 22). An EMHC official said terms of the merger have not been determined.
Roy Heimburger, former chief executive officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri, pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud on Dec. 1. The plea, in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, followed indictments sought by the U.S. attorney in St. Louis on Nov. 26. The indictments for wire fraud and mail fraud charged that Heimburger, 59, devised a scheme to obtain money on behalf of a close friend by having the Blues buy out his real estate interest at an inflated valuation. He also allegedly defrauded the Blues in December 1996 by lying to the board of directors about a legal opinion regarding his compensation contract. The Blues plan fired Heimburger in March (March 10, p. 42). If convicted on each count, Heimburger faces a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $500,000.
Atlanta-based Magellan Health Services completed the acquisition of Human Affairs International, the behavioral health subsidiary of insurer Aetna U.S. Healthcare of Hartford, Conn. Terms of the deal include a $122.1 million cash payment by Magellan and future payments of up to $300 million to Aetna as part of a "long-term strategic relationship" between the companies (Nov. 3, p. 32). Further details of the Aetna-Magellan long-term deal weren't disclosed. HAI, which is based in Salt Lake City, provides behavioral health programs to more than 15 million covered lives.
Richard Huber, 61, a former banking executive, will succeed Ronald Compton, 64, as chairman of Aetna when Compton retires on March 1, 1998. Huber will retain the positions of president and chief executive officer of the Hartford, Conn.-based parent of Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Aetna Retirement Services and Aetna International. Huber joined Aetna as vice chairman in February 1995, was named a director in September 1996 and became president and CEO last July (May 26, p. 12).
The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research will not rescind a cataract-surgery guideline it published in 1993 but is inviting ophthalmological groups to nominate cataract surgery for AHCPR-financed research. The American Academy of Ophthalmology and six other eye-care groups in June wrote AHCPR Administrator John Eisenberg, M.D., for a withdrawal of the guideline, which recommends less invasive methods to improve beneficiaries' vision (June 30, p. 52). The groups said the guidelines are outdated. In a recent interview, Eisenberg said the agency invited the groups to submit cataract surgery as a research topic for one of the AHCPR's evidence-based practice centers, which will publish "evidence reports" that could result in new guidelines. Eisenberg said the agency will not go back and edit its existing guidelines but hopes the evidence reports will add to the guidelines.