ARLINGTON, Texas-JPS Health Network, Fort Worth, Texas, completed a deal last week to buy 30-bed Physicians' Metroplex Hospital for $14.7 million. JPS, part of Tarrant County (Texas) Hospital District, agreed to buy the hospital from investment firm Unity Hunt, Dallas, a JPS spokeswoman said. The hospital was opened in early 2003 in partnership with physicians and hospital operator Leland Medical Centers, Plano, Texas. Leland reduced the hospital's operations to emergency room-only in August. Executives for Unity Hunt and Leland weren't available for comment at deadline.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-HealthSouth Corp. entered exclusive negotiations to sell its $300 million digital hospital in its corporate hometown to a partnership of Baptist Health System and Samford University. A timetable for negotiations was not disclosed. HealthSouth has debated whether to shed the acute-care hospital, intended to showcase state-of-the-art information technology, since federal investigations began in spring 2003 into alleged multibillion-dollar accounting fraud at the company. HealthSouth also plans to sell the hospital that the digital facility was intended to replace as part of a strategy to focus on its core rehabilitation services. In a news release, Baptist Health President and Chief Executive Officer Beth O'Brien said, "The digital hospital represents a tremendous opportunity ... as we fulfill our healthcare mission and ministry in the community."
HAGERSTOWN, Md.-Angry doctors in Maryland are taking a rare step in their struggle against skyrocketing malpractice insurance, vowing not to pay a pending 33% increase set to take effect in January. With payments due Dec. 1 on 2005 policies, scores of physicians protested the steep increase by refusing to write a check to their insurers, said Karl Riggle, a general surgeon and leader of a group called Save our Doctors, Protect our Patients. Riggle said a "huge" number of Maryland physicians are withholding their insurance payments to encourage the state Legislature to enact laws that will provide long-term solutions to high premiums. He said he is optimistic that the Legislature will meet in special session to address the physicians' concerns. State lawmakers appear to be acting on the highly publicized protests. Last week, a Senate commission endorsed the creation of a state fund to help subsidize insurance premiums for physicians over the next four years.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-Investor-owned MedCath Corp., Charlotte, N.C., and not-for-profit Novant Health agreed last month to a partnership that would provide mobile cardiac catheterization laboratory service to four hospitals in North Carolina and Virginia. John Casey, MedCath's president and chief executive officer, said the company expects to sign more partnership deals such as the one with Novant, a seven-hospital system. When Casey was hired as CEO last year, he said the heart hospital operator would grow through partnerships with not-for-profit hospitals. Just last month, MedCath closed its heart hospital in Milwaukee, leaving the company with 12 such hospitals. The company recently reported operating profits for the quarter and year ended Sept. 30, as well as net losses for both periods because of interest and refinancing costs.
CHARLOTTE, N.C.-Carolinas HealthCare System and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, N.C., were named in class-action lawsuits brought by uninsured patients who claim the providers charged them too much for care compared with what publicly and privately insured patients would have paid. Officials for the systems were not available for comment by deadline. The breach-of-contract suits, filed in late October and early November, are the first of what will be a string of lawsuits against area hospitals, said Gary Jackson, a Charlotte attorney involved in the plaintiffs' cases. The Carolinas HealthCare suit was filed in Gaston County Court as a counterclaim to a suit the system filed over an unpaid bill. The Wake Forest suit, which also names affiliate North Carolina Baptist Hospital, was filed in Rowan County Court. North Carolina Baptist Hospital will fight the suit but can't comment on it directly, partly for patient-privacy reasons, said spokesman Mark Wright. "Class-action lawsuits filed by trial lawyers are not the solution for uninsured patients," Wright said. "We do a great deal to take care of needy patients," he said. "Anyone who suggests otherwise is woefully uninformed and misdirected."
FORT MILL, S.C.-Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., announced plans to build a $107.2 million hospital. South Carolina's 2004 state health plan indicates a need for more beds at the company's Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill, S.C., but Piedmont said its patient-service patterns and the population growth of York County indicated that the beds would be better placed at a new hospital in Fort Mill. Piedmont filed a certificate-of-need application with the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control for a 64-bed hospital that could open in fall 2008.