NASHVILLE—St. Thomas Hospital has made a multimillion-dollar investment to transform itself into a national destination for neurosurgery. The 395-bed hospital has launched what it calls the Unity System, which brings together a number of technologies and encourages greater collaboration among specialists to treat brain and spine tumors. The project includes a $7.8 million investment to transform an operating room into a neurosurgical operating suite with upgraded equipment, as well as a $4.9 million replacement of a linear accelerator with more advanced technology. But the term also describes a more unified approach to treating patients, noted Dr. Paul Rosenblatt, chief of radiation oncology at St. Thomas. A multidisciplinary team meets pre- and postoperatively to discuss the “tumor board.” Physicians also consult intra-operatively, “which is really revolutionary,” he said. “There's no other place that we know of that has all these parts in a collaborative effort,” said Dr. Steven Abram, neurosurgeon and director of the St. Thomas Brain and Spine Tumor Center, who said that patient care has typically involved “one pass-off after another” among different specialists. St. Thomas is also trying to position itself as a Center for Excellence for treating brain and spine tumors. “There are discussions with payers and insurance plans,” Abram said. “They recognize that … better care is more cost effective care.”
Regional News/South: St. Thomas Hospital invests in multimillion-dollar transformation, and other news
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Florida Gov. Rick Scott has released his final veto list for the 2012-13 General Appropriations Act, including cuts to healthcare funding. In total, Scott vetoed $142.7 million of the $70 billion budget. Funding for Medicaid represented $21 billion of the Legislature's budget, which was passed March 9. In a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner listing the vetoed items, Scott wrote that the state will allocate funding for rolling out a prospective payment system based on diagnosis-related groups in order to control Medicaid costs and develop a “fair and equitable system” for hospital reimbursement. The total 2012-13 budget for health and human services passed by the Legislature was $29.9 billion, of which Scott vetoed items totaling more than $27.5 million, including $3.4 million that would have provided exemptions from inpatient and outpatient reimbursement ceilings for facilities classified as sole community hospitals. In the letter, Scott noted that education was a top funding priority for his administration even as he sought to close the state's $3.7 billion budget gap. Earlier this month, Scott signed into law a bill that adds more oversight to the sale or lease of public hospitals and may prompt more merger activity (March 17, p. 16). Among its provisions, the law requires public hospitals to undertake a public evaluation of how they are competing in their respective markets, and evaluate whether a deal might be in their best interest. The evaluations must be undertaken by Dec. 31 and include a public hearing and an independent assessment of the hospital's fair market value. Sales or leases already under way before the law's signing are not affected.
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