AUSTIN, TexasThe Texas Senate last month approved a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to borrow $3 billion over the next decade to fund research aimed at eradicating cancer. If approved by voters in November, the plan would allow the state to issue up to $300 million a year in bonds to be distributed by the newly created Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Several senators questioned the wisdom of taking on debt to finance the program when the state budget is flush with cash. Sen. Jane Nelson, the measures sponsor, said the proposal allows the state to borrow the money but leaves the door open for other methods of financing. We should be talking about lives. We shouldnt be talking about dollars and cents, said Nelson, a Republican from Lewisville. An estimated 35,000 Texans die of cancer every year, and 85,000 new cases are diagnosed.
LEXINGTON, Ky.Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, has unveiled plans to create a subsidiary health system by January 2008 to oversee six Kentucky hospitals. The consolidation will allow the half-dozen hospitals to coordinate or consolidate operations such as patient billing, healthcare information technology, insurer negotiations and employee programs, said Gary Campbell, CHI senior vice president for operations. No name or headquarters have yet been selected for the planned subsidiary, he said. Under the plan, the six hospitals52-bed Flaget Memorial Hospital, Bardstown; 87-bed Marymount Medical Center, London; 25-bed Our Lady of the Way Hospital, Martin; 343-bed St. Joseph Hospital and 116-bed St. Joseph Hospital East, both in Lexington, and 41-bed St. Joseph Bereawill have a single governing board and a newly appointed chief executive officer.
NEW ORLEANSLouisiana State University Health Care Services Division said the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded the Medical Center of Louisiana Foundation a $1.2 million grant to help plan construction of a new LSU hospital in New Orleans. LSU has announced plans to build a joint hospital with the Veterans Affairs Department. The grant period is from June 1, 2007, until May 31, 2009, and is intended to allow facility-planning experts to incorporate evidence-based, hospital-design principles into the construction. According to LSU, the system is the medical provider for almost 20% of Louisianas population. The LSU Health Care Services Division includes eight hospitals in the state, including the Medical Center of Louisiana in New Orleans.
ARLINGTON, TexasUSMD Hospital at Arlington named neurosurgeon Carlos Acosta as president and chief executive officer on June 8. Acosta succeeds Steve Kamber, who left 18-bed USMD Hospital at Arlington in December for a position in Florida. Acostas experience includes serving as chief of staff at USMD Surgical Hospital, and he has active-staff affiliations with USMD Hospital at Arlington and 369-bed Arlington Memorial Hospital. USMD Hospital at Arlington is a physician-owned hospital that was purchased by a group of 60 physicians, Mat-Rx Development and Texas Health Resources in October 2003.
AUSTIN, TexasSt. Davids HealthCare said it will spend $100 million to expand and renovate womens services at three of its hospitals. Later this summer, St. Davids 210-bed North Austin Medical Center will break ground on a 177,000-square foot womens facility that is expected to open in March 2009. The system will spend about $83 million on the facilitys initial construction and renovationwhich will include three storiesand has earmarked about $8 million for an additional floor.
St. Davids said the facility is designed for a total of 377,000 square feet when the entire construction has been completed. The medical center will nearly triple its labor, delivery and recovery rooms to 37 from 13; increase its postpartum rooms to 61 from 27; triple its number of Caesarean surgical suites to six; and add 20 neonatal intensive-care unit bassinets for a total of 36. Also included are physician offices, a womens imaging center, and 6,000 square feet of retail space dedicated to womens needs. Future plans call for an ambulatory surgery center designed for womens surgical procedures. The system will also spend about $9 million in renovations and expansion of the neonatal intensive-care services at 296-bed St. Davids Medical Center in Austin, which it expects to complete in June 2008, as well as $1.4 million to expand the neonatal intensive-care service at
St. Davids 157-bed Round Rock Medical Center, which is scheduled to be finished in January 2008.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.A new physician-owned malpractice insurance company, New Star, has been launched by Novant Health, a North Carolina-based eight-hospital system. The new company is licensed by state insurance agencies in both North and South Carolina, and its initial membership will consist of the 691-physician Novant Medical Group. The company will offer its products only to physician practices where doctors have medical staff privileges at Novant Health facilities, such as 805-bed Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, 497-bed Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte and 60-bed Brunswick Community Hospital in Supply, N.C., according to a news release. David Sousa, general counsel for Medical Mutual Insurance Co. of North Carolina, a physician-owned liability carrier covering some 6,500 doctors, expressed doubts over New Stars staying power. In addition to malpractice insurance ventures not generating the amount of revenue many health systems expect, Sousa said another problem is that these companies are more willing to settle nuisance lawsuits and, at times, not offering a vigorous enough defense. But Novant spokesman Jim Tobalski disagreed with Sousas assessments. This insurance company is going to be run by physicians, Tobalski said, Its a company the health system started, but it will have significant physician input.
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