HCA, Nashville, has reached certificate-of-need peace with a not-for-profit competitor in Georgia, but it soldiers on in two CON disputes with not-for-profits in Virginia.
HCA said last week that it has agreed to sell 119-bed Middle Georgia Hospital to 609-bed Medical Center of Central Georgia in return for MCCG dropping its two-year opposition to a certificate of need for an open-heart program at HCA's 193-bed Coliseum Medical Centers. All three hospitals are in Macon.
But near Richmond, Va., HCA continues to fight a proposed 130-bed St. Francis Medical Center that Bon Secours Health System, Marriottsville, Md., wants to build near two HCA hospitals. St. Francis would replace Stuart Circle Hospital, Richmond, which Bon Secours closed in October 2000. And in Loudoun County, Va., HCA hopes to build a new hospital that it said would replace two facilities-one acute-care and one psychiatric-that are located closer to Washington. The plan clashes with an expansion proposal by 92-bed Loudoun Hospital Center, Leesburg, Va.
HCA's Macon operations, including a psychiatric hospital and a third acute-care hospital, are operated under a joint venture with Triad Hospitals, Plano, Texas, which acquired its minority interest in the venture in April 2001 when it bought Quorum Health Group, Brentwood, Tenn. Quorum and HCA formed the venture in April 1998.
Andrew Galloway, senior vice president of MCCG's parent, Central Georgia Health System, said its argument against Coliseum's open-heart program-that Macon and central Georgia don't produce enough open-heart cases for two programs to reach the volumes considered essential to quality care-is still valid. But the advantages of MCCG taking over Middle Georgia Hospital were too significant to pass up, he said.
MCCG plans to move its pediatric areas to the smaller hospital and is studying whether to open a long-term acute-care hospital within the building, Galloway said. Both moves would free up space on the MCCG campus, which is adjacent to Middle Georgia. MCCG will pay $12 million for the hospital, Galloway said. The deal has won approval from state regulators and is expected to close next month.
Michael Boggs, chief executive officer of both Coliseum Medical Centers and the HCA-Triad venture, said Coliseum wouldn't have sold the hospital if it hadn't been for the "two years of brutal, divisive, public struggle" since Coliseum first won its open-heart CON.
MCCG sued in Bibb County (Ga.) Superior Court to nullify HCA's CON, but a ruling by the Georgia Court of Appeals allowed Coliseum to run its open-heart program while the case was pending. The trade-off settles the court case.
In Richmond, a two-day fact-finding hearing was held last month on Bon Secours' project, Jody Challen, a Richmond spokeswoman for Bon Secours, said. The Virginia health commissioner granted a certificate of public need for the project in 1999, but in 2000, HCA sued to block the project. In October 2001, the Virginia Court of Appeals ordered the state health commissioner to review the project again. The health commissioner is scheduled to make a second ruling by Jan. 30, 2003, Challen said.
In Northern Virginia, HCA proposed to shut 100-bed Dominion Hospital, Falls Church, a psychiatric facility, and 96-bed Northern Virginia Community Hospital, Arlington, and replace them with a $192.5 million, 180-bed hospital in Loudoun County. Loudoun Hospital Center, the county's only hospital, is proposing to add 32 beds for $20.9 million. Local and state health planners have recommended rejecting both proposals in reports to the state health commissioner. No deadline is set for the commissioner's ruling.