HAMMOND, La.-The Surgical Care Center of Hammond has filed a notice of appeal in its 31/2-year antitrust case against the city's public hospital, 215-bed North Oaks Medical Center, after a federal district judge in January dismissed the center's claims for the second time. The appeal returns the case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which previously found that the state Legislature had not immunized the hospital district against antitrust action and returned the case to the local court. The surgery center argues that North Oaks used its market power to exclude the center from managed-care contracts.
GULFPORT, Miss.-Memorial Hospital at Gulfport is battling in court with the state Medicaid office over more than $46 million in disproportionate-share payments. The Medicaid program is withholding $25 million from the 335-bed hospital and trying to reclaim an additional $21 million, which it says was improperly paid to the hospital. State officials maintain that Gulfport did not qualify for disproportionate-share payments in 1999. The hospital says it cares for more poor patients than any other hospital in Mississippi, except for University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. A Medicaid spokesman declined to comment, and hospital officials were unavailable.
AUSTIN, Texas- A bill in the Texas Legislature could boost funding for Houston's public hospital system by allowing sports authorities to extend financing to healthcare. The legislation, introduced by state Rep. Garnet Coleman, a Houston Democrat, would allow the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority to use proceeds from its taxes on car rentals and hotel stays to fund 825-bed Harris County Hospital District. The authority has financed two sports arenas and a third still under construction. A hospital district spokeswoman said it's unclear how much the district stands to collect if the legislation passes. The district expects to break even in its current fiscal year, ending Feb. 28, on revenue of about $560 million.
LAFAYETTE, La.-Lafayette General Medical Center has signed a three-year contract with a physician group practice affiliated with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, to follow the center's cancer-management program. The agreement allows 357-bed Lafayette General to use more than 100 cancer treatment programs developed by M.D. Anderson Physicians Network, whose doctors will monitor the treatments of some patients. The agreement includes training and will ease the transfer of Lafayette General patients to M.D. Anderson.
MACON, Ga.-Medical Center of Central Georgia will slash 125 jobs and reduce operations at a nearby urgent-care facility. About half the posts are vacant. Affected employees will be offered the opportunity to apply for a list of jobs that may be available and will be allowed to remain on the job until the end of March, officials said. The medical center employs about 3,500 people.
RICHMOND, Va.-Virginia Gov. James Gilmore has proposed a complete overhaul of the state's mental healthcare system, including closing some hospitals and expanding the network community mental health centers. Under Gilmore's plan, the state would close three hospitals over the next six years: 96-bed Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute, Danville; 171-bed Catawba (Va.) Hospital; and 210-bed Piedmont Geriatric Hospital, Burkeville. Hundreds of state hospital employees would move to community-based jobs or fill vacancies at other hospitals.
TULSA, Okla.-Saint Francis and St. John health systems have broken ground on a 32,800-square-foot medical building in Owasso, Okla. The joint venture between the Tulsa-based, not-for-profit healthcare systems is aimed at enhancing the high-quality medical care provided to residents of Owasso and surrounding communities, officials said. The $6 million outpatient Owasso Medical Plaza will offer an array of healthcare services. The center will have office space for 14 to 16 primary-care physicians, including family practitioners, internists and pediatricians, from OMNI Medical Group and Warren Clinic.