Baptist Health System, Birmingham, Ala., said it will restructure its 10-hospital network in northern Alabama by shedding three facilities and focusing on major capital improvements at the remaining hospitals. At the same time, the U.S. attorney in Birmingham announced that the system paid $1.3 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit over Medicare billing for outpatient physical and occupational therapy. Baptist's new strategic direction comes eight months after its board of directors abruptly halted the system's proposed sale to for-profit Triad Hospitals and sacked the deal's architect, longtime President and CEO Dennis Hall. Under its new strategy, Baptist said it plans to sell 101-bed Coosa Valley Baptist Medical Center, Sylacauga, Ala., and 45-bed Cherokee Baptist Medical Center, Centre, Ala. The system also will not renew its lease on county-owned 37-bed Lawrence Baptist Medical Center in Moulton, Ala. The lease expires March 31, 2005. The whistleblower lawsuit charged that some Baptist hospitals billed Medicare for outpatient physical and occupational therapy without the required physician-approved plan of care. -- by Michael Romano
System that halted Triad sale reveals new strategy
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