North Carolina Specialty Hospital, featured in a March Modern Physician cover story on efforts by acute care hospitals to stop specialty hospitals, expects to break ground this summer on a new facility, following an announcement by Duke University Health System that it has dropped objections to the project.
On Friday, the Durham, N.C., specialty hospital, Duke and state authorities announced they had reached an agreement to replace the current facility with a new hospital that will have 18 beds (six fewer than now), twice the floor space and an additional six observation beds.
Rob Miner, chief executive of North Carolina Specialty Hospital, says he expects the state to issue a certificate of need for the project in a couple of weeks, and that the new facility will open in August 2004.
For more than a year, the hospital had been asking state authorities for a CON to replace its cramped facility, but Duke opposed the application, saying a new facility would unfairly compete with Duke's 335-bed Durham Regional Hospital.
State planners upheld Duke, but an administrative law judge in December endorsed the proposed project and ordered the state, Duke and the surgery hospital into mediation.
"Durham Regional is making a profit, so it became apparent that there is room for all of us to be in this community," Miner says.
But the dispute cost Chicago-based National Surgical Hospitals, the specialty hospital's joint owner, hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the company's CEO, John Rex-Waller.
Because of North Carolina's tight CON law, National Surgical officials say they have no plans to build new specialty hospitals in the state.