CLEVELAND-Mayor Jane Campbell and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court last week to order the reopening of 212-bed Deaconess Hospital, which closed late last month. In a 28-page friend-of-the-court brief, Kucinich argued that the hospital violated a 3-year-old Cleveland law requiring hospitals to extend 90 days' notice before closing. Deaconess filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Nov. 21. At the time, the hospital's owner, George Saad, said the hospital would emerge stronger and more competitive. A week later, the hospital closed. In a news release, officials said, "Unfortunately, continuing to operate is not presently feasible. Deaconess Hospital deeply regrets these actions and can only express great appreciation for the support of its patients, healthcare providers, employees, vendors and the community over many years." Campbell said the city would seek to compel compliance with the law. In 2000, Kucinich and community activists smoothed the sale of Deaconess to Saad when the hospital's then-owner, bankrupt Primary Health Systems planned to close it. At deadline, Saad had not returned telephone calls seeking comment.
CHICAGO-The University of Illinois last month paid $2 million-double the alleged damages-to resolve allegations that the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago improperly diagnosed and hospitalized liver transplant patients to move them up on the donor organ waiting list. The state and federal government intervened five months ago in a 1999 whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former UIC transplant surgeon, who will receive $500,000 of the settlement. The government contended that the medical center tried to advance patients on the waiting list so it could perform enough liver transplants to maintain Medicare and Medicaid certification. The medical center admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement and maintained that its conduct was "appropriate and lawful." Earlier this year, the UIC Medical Center paid $115,000 and Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago paid $23,000 to settle similar allegations.