ALABASTER, Ala.-Shelby Baptist Medical Center will appeal a court decision issued last week that could shut down a highly profitable, year-old open-heart surgery unit, officials said. The ruling by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals--the latest twist in a five-year legal battle--reversed a decision in July 2004 by a county court judge allowing the 187-bed medical center to continue the procedures despite opposition from the Alabama State Health Planning and Development Agency and competitor Brookwood Medical Center, Birmingham. Brookwood, which also performs the procedures, believes that there aren't sufficient numbers of procedures to justify two programs. Shelby Baptist, part of Birmingham-based Baptist Health System, will be allowed to continue the procedures during the appeals process.
GLEN BURNIE, Md.-North Arundel Hospital has renamed itself the Baltimore Washington Medical Center. The 270-bed, 40-year-old hospital also is awaiting approval of a certificate-of-need application for a $112 million, 15,000-square-foot expansion project that would include new private patient rooms, an expanded emergency room, additional intensive-care beds and a major women's health center. The project is expected to begin early next year. The hospital is part of the University of Maryland Medical System.
BATON ROUGE, La.-A new policy in Louisiana requiring nursing homes to pay for durable medical equipment is the result of a report by the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals that found Louisiana's Medicaid agency erroneously spent more than $4 million on wheelchairs for nursing home residents, some of whom died before ever receiving them. In the report investigating Medicaid abuses, the state agency cited instances of nursing home residents receiving costly, motorized wheelchairs while in comas, on their deathbeds or after they had died. "Multiple incidents such as these . . . and a report of unused wheelchairs piling up at one state-run nursing home illustrate the need for a more effective system of monitoring and distributing these items to nursing home residents," the state report found. The new program will shift responsibility for purchasing durable medical equipment from Louisiana Medicaid to nursing homes, which will receive a reimbursement increase to help cover the costs. The program changes are expected to save $7 million per year. Department spokeswoman Kristen Meyer said the nursing homes have a better idea of patient needs and the shift "should encourage more responsible use of equipment." Meyer also said the CMS, which investigated abuses in the Louisiana program, mandated the changes.
EDMOND, Okla.-Renaissance Women's Hospital has been slated for closure on Sept. 30 by its owner, Universal Health Services, said Steve Powell, chief executive officer of the 14-bed hospital. During the past six to eight months, the hospital has gone from positive to negative cash flow, and it doesn't appear anything can be done to reverse that change, Powell said. He declined to say how big the losses have been but said the hospital was hurt by flat reimbursement rates from health plans, rising costs to provide care, the traditional slim margins found in women's health, and increases in professional liability insurance costs. A group of physicians is considering purchasing the 9-year-old hospital or trying to arrange for another organization to buy it, according to Powell. Roughly 105 people are employed directly and indirectly by the hospital, and they have been given incentives to stay until the September closing date, he said.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., sold St. Luke's Hospital and two adjacent medical office buildings to St. Vincent's Health System for $150 million. St. Vincent's, which is owned by Ascension Health, St. Louis, will lease the facilities to Mayo until construction is completed on Mayo's new $226 million, 214-bed hospital in Jacksonville. Mayo and St. Vincent's began negotiations in 2001, but competitor HCA challenged certificate-of-need requests needed to complete the sale, said Erik Kaldor, a Mayo spokesman. Florida administrative and district court judges dismissed HCA's challenges, Kaldor said.
JACKSON, Tenn.-West Tennessee Healthcare said it has broken ground on a 240-bed patient tower that will replace existing beds on its 612-bed main campus. The expansion project--the hospital's largest in more than 25 years--also clears the way for expanding outpatient services in existing buildings as part of a $145 million plan that includes doubling the size of the emergency room and other renovations. The new patient tower is scheduled to be completed in 2007. The first phase of the plan started in 2003 and included a visitor parking garage, a breast-care center and a laboratory building. West Tennessee Healthcare said the projects will be paid for with bonds and operating funds.