St. John Health plans to spend the month of June emptying inpatient beds at its Detroit Riverview Hospital, preparing to give the keys to the place to the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. A number of parties, though, still are fighting to stop the system from ending acute care at the 285-bed hospitalSt. Johns last that is squarely in the city limitsand challenging Karmanos bid to buy it.
The opponents say nine-hospital St. John and parent 61-hospital Ascension Health are shirking a promised charitable mission to serve the Detroit communitya mission that plied a certificate-of-need decision in their favorand that Karmanos is illegally ditching a partnership with another hospital (May 14, p. 6).
Last week, a lawyer representing two Riverview patients and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25 signaled he would ask for an injunction against the closure and sale. Bruce Miller, a partner with the law firm Miller Cohen in Detroit, sent a letter to Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox asking him to act by June 4. Miller said the move was a formality allowing him to file a lawsuit if Cox defers.
Millers letter to Cox accuses St. John of promising to maintain a money-losing commitment to care within the Detroit city limits while seeking permission in 2002 to build a new 200-bed hospital in Novi, an affluent suburb. It was that promise, Miller said in an interview, that won CON legislation paving the way for the project. St. John has taken the position that its charitable mission is to remain in Detroit, Miller said.
Meanwhile, seven-hospital Detroit Medical Center and AFSCME are suing to stop the sale to Karmanos, arguing that the institute is breaking a previous contract to provide cancer services on Detroit Medical Centers campus. A hearing is scheduled for July 2.
Six Democratic state legislators rallied behind that claim of deceit, including Democratic state Sen. Martha Scott, who says she regrets casting a vote that helped St. John get its CON to build in Novi. I didnt have a good feeling for it, and it came back to bite me, Scott said in an interview.
Bob Hoban, St. Johns senior vice president for strategy and business development, rebuffed the claims that the systems actions are inconsistent with its not-for-profit status or its stated commitment to Detroits poor communities. We provide more than $130 million in charity care, community benefit and uncompensated care at all St. John facilities, through our community health initiatives, Hoban said in a written statement. Following the sale of Detroit Riverview to Karmanos, St. John will continue to be the second largest provider of hospital care in Detroit.