See related story: Big Money at Stake — Aug. 16, 2010
State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier has denied St. Dominic’s request to move 71 of its Jackson beds to Madison and construct a new $121 million facility.
St. Dominic says it will appeal the decision in Hinds County Chancery Court.
Currier agreed with previous recommendations by the Health Department staff and a state hearing officer to deny the request.
Representatives for Health Management Associates (HMA), which have opposed St. Dominic’s plans in Health Department hearings, were happy with the final decision from the state agency.
“We are pleased with the outcome. We can focus on completing our next hospital, set to open in May 2011,” said Davis Richards III, CEO of HMA’s Madison County Medical Center.
HMA owns Madison County’s only hospital, for which it is opening a new $42 million replacement facility called Madison River Oaks.
St. Dominic is keeping its chin up.
“The decision was not totally unexpected. While we are disappointed, we’re going to move forward and stand with the citizens of Madison. We are going to encourage them to voice their opinions and continue to contact their local officials,” said Paul Arrington, St. Dominic’s vice president for business development.
“The issue is, do hospitals have the right to locate beds and services closer to where their patients live and work?” Arrington said.
St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital submitted a certificate of need (CON) application to the Health Department in December 2008, requesting that it be allowed to build a new facility where it could relocate some of its existing, licensed beds to Madison County.
A state hearing officer viewed the request as a new hospital build instead of a relocation of beds. The state Health Plan does not support building a new hospital in Madison County, which is in the same General Hospital Service Area (GHSA) as Hinds County.
HMA is afraid that if St. Dominic moves in, it will steal private-pay patients, threatening its viability by leaving it with more patients insured by Medicaid, which pays less for services.
CON laws are constructed to combat such scenarios and prevent hospital over-building. Mississippi is one of 30 states nationwide that governs its healthcare industry via CON instead of leaving it up to the free market.
If St. Dominic doesn’t get its way in chancery court, the final step would be an appeal to the state Supreme Court.