Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, Vt., may continue with its controversial construction project, including some work not currently covered by state permits, Vermont's top hospital regulator said. The 510-bed hospital has certificates of need for about $228.4 million of work, but the project's total cost will reach $356 million, officials said. The hospital is seeking state approval for the $128 million difference, which former executives allegedly hid from regulators to avoid further review. The decision by Jim Crowley, commissioner of the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration, allows Fletcher Allen to continue some work not covered by existing CONs. The hospital said otherwise construction would stop completely. However, regulators still must approve continued work on some projects not included in Crowley's ruling.
Meanwhile, a nurses' union accused Fletcher Allen of attempting to stall contract negotiations with a turnaround plan announced last week. The hospital has asked for a federal mediator to help in negotiations with the union, which earlier this month filed a 30-day strike notice. -- by Tony Fong