BALTIMORE-Maryland General Hospital confirmed earlier this month that it had obeyed an HHS subpoena for documents related to HIV and hepatitis C testing at the hospital from Jan. 1, 2002, through Aug. 30, 2003. HHS' inspector general's office is the latest oversight agency to become involved in a scandal over quality controls in the hospital's laboratory and the accuracy of test results during that period. Since receiving the request May 11, the hospital has been "cooperating fully," spokesman Lee Kennedy said in a written statement. A state inspection initially identified 460 people whose test results may have been inaccurate; the pool of patients to be notified and retested was subsequently expanded to more than 2,000. More recently, the focus has shifted to the appropriateness of lab claims. Maryland's attorney general is investigating whether Medicaid was billed for tests the hospital knew to be inaccurate. "Maryland General billed for tests that were, in fact, performed," Kennedy said.
WARM SPRINGS, Ga.-Baptist Meriwether Hospital is set to be taken over by the Meriwether County Hospital Authority July 1 after its parent, Georgia Baptist Health Care System, Atlanta, ends its nearly eight-year management of the hospital and an affiliated 79-bed nursing home. Billy Hayes, the hospital's administrator, said 25-bed Meriwether was the last of five facilities once owned or managed by the health system, whose board voted in 2000 to leave the hospital business and continue its ministry through a foundation model, Hayes said. The authority intends to find an outside company to either manage or lease the hospital as an acute-care facility.
CARROLLTON, Ky.-Associated Healthcare Systems, Brentwood, Tenn., has agreed to purchase the lease that Norton Healthcare, Louisville, Ky., holds to operate 25-bed Carroll County (Ky.) Hospital. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but the parties hope to close the deal June 30. Norton is focusing its resources on its four Louisville hospitals; last year, the not-for-profit system sold 64-bed Spring View Hospital, Lebanon, Ky., to another investor-owned company from Brentwood, LifePoint Hospitals, for $15.5 million. For Associated, the deal would add the first leased hospital to the four hospitals the company owns and operates, said A. Ronald Turner, Associated's president and chief executive officer. The deal is subject to approval by the Associated and Norton boards, Carroll County Fiscal Court and CCMH Corp., the public hospital authority that owns the hospital. Associated also is negotiating with CCMH for a new lease that should be similar to the agreement that Norton had, Turner said.
COVINGTON, Ky.-Three-hospital St. Elizabeth Medical Center confirmed it will leave 29-hospital Catholic Healthcare Partners, Cincinnati, by year-end and will conclude its 6-year-old affiliation with CHP's five-hospital Mercy Health Partners. St. Elizabeth, which serves metropolitan Cincinnati, is owned by the Covington Diocese and unlike other CHP members has never merged its assets with the larger Catholic system. In a written statement, St. Elizabeth's President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Gross said the affiliation has been mutually beneficial. "Our board's decision to return to independent status is simply a business judgment that was an option envisioned when we first entered into our agreement in 1998," Gross said.
JACKSON, Tenn.-The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department earlier this month filed a joint brief in an appeal of a federal antitrust case pitting two Jackson, Tenn., facilities against each other. A U.S. District judge dismissed an antitrust case brought by Regional Hospital of Jackson against West Tennessee Healthcare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Tennessee. Regional is owned by for-profit Community Health Systems, Brentwood, Tenn. The federal government's brief, filed in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Cincinnati, contends that the judge erred in throwing out the case based on West Tennessee's status as a public hospital district, saying the judge's ruling allows public entities too broad of an immunity from federal antitrust law. Both West Tennessee and the Tennessee Blues have denied that their contract deters competition.
AUSTIN, Texas-Six-hospital St. David's HealthCare Partnership announced $100 million of capital projects, including an expansion of its 121-bed Round Rock (Texas) Medical Center, where surgical capacity will be doubled. The system also will expand a women's center and install a gamma knife for brain surgery at its flagship, 290-bed St. David's Medical Center, and build an outpatient surgery center at its 210-bed North Austin (Texas) Medical Center. St. David's said the projects would bring its total capital investments to $460 million since its formation as a partnership with HCA, Nashville, in 1996.