MARION, Ill.-A small for-profit hospital and a six-hospital not-for-profit system are feuding over who should be able to offer services and where in southern Illinois.
The fight has ended up in court with the hospitals suing each other over certificate-of-need approvals for a new ambulatory surgery center, cardiac-care programs and other expanded services.
Doing battle are Southern Illinois Healthcare, a not-for-profit system headquartered in Carbondale, and 84-bed Marion (Ill.) Memorial Hospital, owned by Brentwood, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems.
The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board approved CONs for both healthcare companies May 21 at its meeting in Springfield.
On July 6, Marion Memorial filed a lawsuit asking a judge in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago to review a decision by the state planning board to let SIH build a $7.6 million ambulatory surgery center in a joint venture with local orthopedists.
In its complaint, Marion Memorial said it offers the "same surgical procedures" as the proposed surgery center, which would be built in Herrin, Ill., just five miles from Marion.
SIH fired back by filing a complaint of its own July 14 in the same court.
SIH has asked a judge to review the planning board's decision to give Marion Memorial CON approval to build a new $48 million replacement hospital, which would include expanded services such as open-heart surgery, cardiac catheterization and magnetic resonance imaging.
In its complaint, SIH said it already has, or plans to have, similar services at four of its hospitals closest to Marion.
For example, SIH's 132-bed Memorial Hospital of Carbondale received CON approval for an open-heart surgery program of its own at the same May 21 meeting (June 21, p. 90).
"They're the ones that fired first," Jack Buckley, SIH's president, said of Marion Memorial.
Marion Memorial fired the third shot in this game of tit for tat when it filed suit July 16 to have the CON for an open-heart surgery program at SIH's Memorial Hospital reviewed.
Ronald Seal, Marion Memorial's chief executive officer, said the hospital has sought help from the court "to protect our investment."
For-profit Community Health Systems bought the formerly city-owned Marion Memorial three years ago for $11 million. Under the deal, CHS leases the facility from the city of Marion until a new hospital is built, a Marion spokesman said. Besides building a new hospital, CHS promised it would bring tertiary services, such as open- heart surgery, to the region.
"We're fulfilling our commitment," Seal said.
A judge will review the record of evidence in each case before issuing a ruling on the planning board's CON decisions. A hearing date has not been set.
The courts have upheld decisions by the planning board in 36 of the 37 cases where final rulings have been rendered since July 1992, said Ray Passeri, secretary for the planning board.
Officials at both SIH and Marion Memorial said they are amenable to trying to work out a resolution.