ORLANDO, Fla.State officials reversed course in mid-June and cleared construction of a $267 million childrens hospital in Orlando after twice rejecting the bid from Nemours Foundation.
The pediatric providers latest, successful attempt hinged on newly developed plans for joint research and education efforts with the University of Central Florida and the Burnham Institute for Medical Research; Nemours guaranteed access for low-income patientsand its electronic medical records, according to certificate-of-need approval documents.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration cleared the 95-bed hospital after a demonstration of Nemours EMR system, but with 10 conditions, including a pledge that at least 54% of its patient days be care for patients covered by Medicaid plans or charity care. Regulators gave the contentious project the go-ahead despite little evidence that Orlando needs another hospital. Physician-owned Nemours has not demonstrated that this hospital is needed because of access issues of future bed availability, the agency wrote in its approval. Further, the project will impact existing providers. However, officials said Nemours EMRs would likely boost quality and access guarantees would benefit low-income patients.
Fernando Senra, an AHCA spokesman, declined to comment on the CON approval but said each application is different and receives a very through review when undergoing consideration, in an e-mail.
Major opponents to the project, Orlando Regional Healthcare and Florida Hospital, have a 28-day window to appeal, but they agreed to enter into state mediation to avoid an appeal. Nemours spokesman Jarrod Cady said at deadline hospital officials had not yet been notified that Florida would agree to a mediation deal.
David Milov, Nemours chief of clinical informatics, said Florida AHCA officials visited Nemours 174-bed Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., for a demonstration of its EMR system after rejecting the planned Orlando hospital a second time. Milov said the pediatric provider, which also owns clinics in Delaware and Florida, has invested at least $10 million over 10 years in digital records. Eighty percent of inpatient and all outpatient physician orders are electronic, he said, and the system includes electronic alerts, reminders and evidence-based guidelines tailored to patients care.
Orlando Regional and Florida Hospital have electronic medical records as well, spokespersons for the providers said.
Its basically becoming a requirement of doing business, said Jayne Bassler, vice president and chief clinical informatics officer for 1,767-bed Florida Hospital.