GRANTSVILLE, W.Va.-Eighteen critical-access hospitals in West Virginia said last week that they had formed a network to help them negotiate jointly to purchase supplies and services, work on quality initiatives and share tips on running small, rural hospitals. Barbara Lay, chief executive officer of 42-bed Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center in Grantsville, said the small hospitals also will look to share certain skilled employees, such as a dietitian, where the need isn't great enough at any one hospital to justify a full-time position. The West Virginia Hospital Association is helping to run the network, said Lay, who is chairing the new organization.
ATLANTA-About 150,000 healthcare workers in Georgia will be given emergency-preparedness packets that will include brochures and a training video to help prepare workers for a crisis and to manage associated stress. Distribution will begin during the next two months. The cost is expected to be about $450,000 and will be covered by a grant from HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration. The program differs from other preparedness efforts because it targets individual healthcare workers rather than facilities, said a spokesman for the state's Division of Public Health, which is coordinating the effort. One aim of the program is to help healthcare workers worry less about family members during a crisis, the spokesman said. To achieve that objective, the packet will include a tool to guide healthcare workers in setting up emergency-preparedness plans at home.
BATON ROUGE, La.-A group of hospitals in Baton Rouge has devised a plan designed to persuade the state to drop its plan to build a new Earl K. Long Medical Center, an area public hospital run for the state by Louisiana State University. The plan was outlined in a letter sent to various parties, including Don Smithburg, vice chancellor of LSU and chief executive officer for its hospitals. Smithburg declined to discuss the letter but said the authors don't want the state to proceed with plans to rebuild Long, which is in poor physical condition and is unlikely to pass its next inspection by accreditation groups. The letter outlined a plan in which local hospitals would pick up the slack from the closure of Long, according to a report in the Baton Rouge Advocate. Smithburg said the new hospital would cost an estimated $275 million and would be funded with revenue bonds. The Louisiana Hospital Association declined comment because it is in negotiations with Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco over the state hospital situation. Blanco is trying to raise $75 million by taxing nonpublic hospitals (March 21, p. 17). The state is looking to overhaul its entire public hospital system.
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn.-Gateway Health System said late last month that it has signed a letter of intent to negotiate exclusively with investor-owned Triad Hospitals, Plano, Texas, for the sale of the 201-bed hospital. Gateway announced in October 2004 that it was looking for a buyer or capital partner. Triad would build a replacement for the 51-year-old hospital as part of the deal, but no other terms were disclosed. Gateway said it expects to complete a definitive agreement with Triad by June 30.
NASHVILLE-The CMS late last month approved the first part of Tennessee's plan to cut enrollment in its expansive Medicaid program, known as TennCare, the state's Department of Finance and Administration said. Gov. Phil Bredesen wants to cut about one-quarter of the 1.3 million enrollees to reduce the cost of the 10-year-old program. Tennessee's program covers the highest percentage of residents of any state-23%-and the cuts would still leave Tennessee among the top 10 states in the country. The CMS is still considering the second phase of the state's plan, which would set some limits on benefits, including physician visits and prescriptions. Meanwhile, a U.S. District Court judge in Nashville granted seven hospital systems and a large physician group friend-of-the-court status in the court's review of the TennCare overhaul. A hearing on the matter began last week and was scheduled to continue this week, said Gary Miller, senior vice president of legal affairs at Wellmont Health System, Kingsport, one of the providers seeking to intervene.