5 Conflicts Over Proposed Surgery Centers in 2011

Building a surgery center is arguably more difficult than it was 10 years ago. With saturated markets, increased attention from hospital competitors and strict certificate of need laws in many states, surgeon groups often struggle to gain approval for their projects against a wall of concerned competitors. Here are five conflicts over proposed surgery centers that occurred in 2011.

1. Alaska’s Kahtnu Ventures is still hoping to build an ASC, despite CON denial and concerns from the local hospital.
In November, an Alaska surgeon group submitted an application for a certificate of need with the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services to build an ambulatory surgery center. The group, Kahtnu Ventures, intended to build an 8,365-square-foot ASC. The application was denied because of “untimely submission of information,” but the group says it still hopes to build the center.

The original application caught the attention of Central Peninsula Hospital, based in Soldotna, Alaska, which said that if the ASC were approved, it could impact the hospital’s outpatient surgery volume and profits. The surgeon group is now in discussions with the hospital about developing a relationship with the eventual goal of opening the ASC.

2. Georgia’s WellStar Health gained approval for a surgery center after an appeal from a hospital competitor. Atlanta-based Northside Hospital challenged plans for a new surgery center in Cobb, Ga., after WellStar Health System received a certificate of need for the ASC earlier in 2011. Administrative hearings were held over the summer to determine the result of the appeal, and the Department of Community Health eventually approved the appeal again. WellStar plans to invest $80 million in a facility that will span 250,000 square feet and contain the surgery center and other services.

3. North Carolina’s Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s CON application was protested by competitor Novant Health.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals will determine whether Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., will be able to build a $38.7 million ambulatory surgery center. State regulators have twice approved the proposed 72,300-square-foot ASC, but the approval has been appealed both times by competitor Novant Health. The surgery center would contain seven new operating rooms and one transferred from N.C. Baptist Hospital next to its main campus.

4. North Carolina’s Cone Health was denied a CON for a new surgery center after protestations from numerous competitors. North Carolina state regulators denied a certificate of need application by Cone Health to add a new ASC to its MedCenter High Point (N.C.) facility after objections from numerous competitors. The state rejected the application on grounds that the new ASC is not necessary due to declines in surgery demands and enough available operating rooms.

The decision followed objections from competitors Novant Health and High Point Regional Health, which claimed the proposed surgical center would be a duplication of services the two health systems currently provide in the north High Point and Kernersville areas. Cone Health officials planned to talk with staff of the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation to address their concerns or eventually to appeal the state’s findings.

5. North Carolina’s Mission Hospital was denied CON approval after Park Ridge Health and local physicians opposed the ASC build.
North Carolina state regulators rejected plans by North Carolina’s Mission Hospital to relocate an endoscopy unit to a new outpatient surgery center, following opposition from Hendersonville-based Park Ridge Health and some local physicians. The facility would have been located four miles north of rival Park Ridge Hospital, and critics said the facility would have duplicated existing services, including six endoscopy suites in Henderson County.

Mission CEO Ron Paulus, MD, said he found it offensive that anyone would characterize Mission as a “predatory” organization, despite recent physician practice acquisitions. He said patients in Fletcher would be able to receive care closer to home at a facility that charged lower prices than nearby hospitals.

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