In the first known case of a hospital being divested to avert its exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid, Tenet Healthcare Corp. found a buyer for 238-bed Redding (Calif.) Medical Center. Tenet said Hospital Partners of America, Charlotte, N.C., formerly OrthoNeuro Corp., has signed a definitive agreement to buy Redding in an asset sale valued at $60 million. Two surgeons allegedly performed unnecessary surgeries at Redding and fraudulently billed Medicare, and the facility has been a focus of several investigations into the matter, beginning with an October 2002 federal raid first disclosed by Modern Healthcare. Last year Tenet, without admitting wrong-doing, paid $54 million to settle its possible civil liability in the case (See related story, p. 14). And last December, HHS' top investigative official ordered the healthcare system to divest the hospital or risk its exclusion from federal health programs. Hospital Partners and its physician partners own 356-bed Twelve Oaks Medical Center in Houston, which they bought from Tenet, and 25-bed Austin (Texas) Surgical Hospital. Hospital Partners Chief Executive Officer Todd Johnson declined to comment on the Redding deal.
UnitedHealth reports gain
UnitedHealth Group, Minneapolis, reported a 37% gain in first-quarter profits thanks to acquisitions, new products and a slowdown in medical cost growth. Net income for the quarter reached $554 million, or 88 cents per share, compared to $403 million, or 65 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 17% to $8.1 billion, and enrollment rose 11% to 20 million members. UnitedHealth said it expects medical costs to increase between 9% and 9.5% this year, slower than its earlier projection of 9.5% to 10%. The company slightly raised its 2004 per-share earnings forecast to between $3.75 and $3.78, or growth of 26% to 28% over 2003; in January, it forecast annual earnings growth of 25% to 26%.
Siemens picks nursing officer
Siemens Medical Solutions created the position of chief nursing officer and named Gail Latimer, a Pennsylvania hospital executive, to fill the spot. Latimer formerly was senior vice president and chief nursing executive at Holy Redeemer Health System and senior vice president and chief operating officer at Holy Redeemer Hospital and Medical Center in Meadowbrook, Pa. She will work closely with clinical product developers, customers, industry experts and advisory groups, Siemens said. She earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from Pennsylvania State University and a master's degree in nursing administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.