NEW ORLEANS-The Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans, in a draft plan to address a $40 million projected deficit while raising some workers' pay, late last month proposed closing nine operating rooms, an HIV clinic and 20 psychiatric beds, according to the Times-Picayune. The cuts would represent almost 10% of the hospital's $415 million annual budget. Jerry Romig, a spokesman for the LSU Health Care Services Division, which operates eight of the state's 10 charity hospitals, including the medical center, said he could not confirm the report. "There are some very sensitive, very touchy, very hard negotiations about what we can cut," Romig said. LSU is trying to make up a $70 million projected deficit among the eight charity hospitals on anticipated revenue of $803.9 million for the current fiscal year, which began July 1. Some $30 million in cuts will come from the other seven hospitals, Romig said. The LSU Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the hospitals' budgets Aug. 22.
BOYNTON BEACH, Fla.-Four Florida hospitals exempted from certificate-of-need review for cardiac surgery agreed last month to halt implementation of their programs until a challenge to the exemption is heard. A new state law gives special treatment to Bethesda Memorial Hospital, Boynton Beach; Boca Raton Community Hospital; Indian River Memorial Hospital, Vero Beach; and Martin Memorial Medical Center, Stuart. Tenet Healthcare Corp. and HCA have challenged the law's constitutionality, and a three-day hearing on their consolidated lawsuit is scheduled to begin Oct. 20 in Leon County Circuit Court, Tallahassee. Bethesda and Martin were preparing to begin construction on heart units this year.
SAN ANTONIO-San Antonio State Hospital said late last month it would pay $15,000 to settle allegations that one of its emergency room physicians inappropriately transferred a suicidal patient, violating the 1986 Emergency Medical Transfer and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Although the physician was the primary responsible party, the 377-bed, state-owned hospital also is liable under EMTALA, according to HHS' inspector general's office. The patient arrived at the hospital's ER complaining of a urinary tract infection. She said she was depressed and had earlier that day tried to slash her wrists with a kitchen knife. The attending physician allegedly sent her unaccompanied in a taxi to 339-bed University Health System, San Antonio, without stabilizing the woman's condition or verifying that University would accept the transfer. The inspector general's office said the hospital has implemented a corrective action plan and assisted in the ongoing investigation. Hospital officials could not be reached for comment at deadline.
BATON ROUGE, La.-The Federal Trade Commission last month settled its 10th price-fixing case against physicians in the past 20 months, filing a consent decree preventing an independent physicians association (IPA) in Baton Rouge and its consultant from negotiating with health plans on behalf of the IPA's doctors, collectively negotiating prices or engaging in other anticompetitive behavior. In an 11th price-fixing case also filed last month, Brown & Toland Medical Group, San Francisco, said it would fight the FTC's charges. The latest consent decree involves 28-physician Professional Orthopedic Services, whose members provide about 70% of orthopedic services in Baton Rouge; three orthopedic practices in the IPA; the IPA's consultant, Physician Network Consulting, Metairie, La.; and the consulting firm's managing director, Michael Taylor. Taylor declined to comment on behalf of the IPA or his firm.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare announced plans last month for 191 layoffs among its 2,750-member workforce and said the decision was prompted by lower admissions, including a 7% decline through the first half of 2003. The 578-bed hospital announced the layoffs shortly before changing leadership last month, when Mark O'Bryant took over as chief executive officer. O'Bryant, who has been senior vice president and chief operating officer at Memorial Health Care System, Chattanooga, Tenn., succeeds the hospital's longtime CEO, Duncan Moore, who resigned in June. The job cuts will occur across the board, Senior Vice President Ron Brafford said. "We tried not taking away the core nursing," Brafford said.
BLUEFIELD, W.Va.-Bluefield Regional Medical Center recently won approval for an open-heart surgery program that will include a 15,000-square-foot expansion and renovation of parts of its 265-bed hospital, with a total cost of $8.3 million. The West Virginia Health Care Authority approved the program in late July after a citizen dropped his objections to the project, said James Shott, a spokesman for the hospital. Charleston (W.Va.) Area Medical Center is a partner in the program. Bluefield Regional expects to begin construction later this summer or in early fall and is hoping to have its open-heart program operating about 18 months later, Shott said. In its fifth year, Bluefield Regional estimates that the program will handle about 375 open-heart surgeries. Bluefield's program is one of two that were envisioned when the certificate-of-need standards for open-heart surgery were changed in early 2002, said Sonia Chambers, chairwoman of the West Virginia Health Care Authority. The authority approved an open-heart program at 252-bed St. Joseph's Hospital, Parkersburg, earlier this summer, she said. Nashville-based HCA owns St. Joseph's.
MONROE, Ga.-Health Management Associates, Naples, Fla., has acquired 115-bed Walton Medical Center, the hospital company announced last month. The deal is subject to approval by the Georgia attorney general's office, which is expected to complete its review by the end of HMA's 2003 fiscal year in September. HMA expects to build a replacement hospital for Walton, which has operated as a regional hospital in the fast-growing area for more than 75 years. HMA, which focuses on general, acute-care hospitals in rural areas, will operate 47 hospitals in 15 states after the completion of this deal and two previously announced pending transactions involving the acquisition of 203-bed Providence Yakima (Wash.) Medical Center and 50-bed Providence Toppenish (Wash.) Hospital.