Tenet Healthcare Corp. said it may close the company's Santa Barbara, Calif., headquarters and consolidate operations at another corporate office. Tenet President and Chief Executive Officer Trevor Fetter sent a memo to the 140 employees at the Santa Barbara headquarters saying consolidation of corporate support services may be necessary after Tenet completes its planned divestiture of 31 hospitals. The company will make a decision within 90 days, but any headquarters move wouldn't occur until mid-2005, said a spokesman. Meanwhile, Tenet and the federal government finalized a $30.8 million agreement to settle two Medicare fraud cases. Tenet will pay $22.5 million and sign a five-year corporate integrity agreement for North Ridge Medical Center, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to resolve allegations that the hospital's financial arrangements with some physicians violated the antikickback statute, self-referral laws and the False Claims Act. Tenet will pay $8.3 million to settle allegations that 106 hospitals owned by the company at various times from 1992 to 2000 improperly coded discharges of Medicare inpatients. Tenet denied wrongdoing in the settlement.
Symphony faces the music
Former employees of Symphony Healthcare, Nashville, filed petitions in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Portland, Ore., to force two Symphony subsidiaries into bankruptcy to collect wages and benefits totaling more than $40,000, court records show. Symphony shut down its only two hospitals, both in Portland, in January and has since sold one of the hospitals to a local college. The other hospital remains for sale. Ken Perry, Symphony president and chief executive officer, said a state fund for laid-off workers has paid former workers about two-thirds of wages and accrued vacation pay owed. Symphony will pay the remainder and reimburse the state fund. The Portland lawyer who filed the petitions, Gene Mechanic, was not available for comment, according to his assistant.
Systems talk marriage
Two-hospital Premier Health Partners, Dayton, Ohio, and 183-bed Middletown (Ohio) Regional Health System have signed an affiliation agreement under which Middletown would join Premier. A definitive agreement is expected by summer, a Premier spokeswoman said. The partnership is not a merger but will let the systems conduct joint strategic planning and coordinate operating and capital budgets, she said.