Details emerged at a public meeting Thursday of a new development in the consideration of Kahtnu Venture’s proposal to build an ambulatory surgical center in Kenai.
Stephen Rose, an attorney with the Seattle-based law firm Garvey Schubert Barer, confirmed Kahtnu is seeking an injunction against the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, with Central Peninsula Hospital listed as a party.
The group of eight surgeons is taking issue with the development and completion of CPH’s fourth operating room, which has become a point of consideration surrounding whether or not Kahtnu’s proposal is needed in the area.
“Kahtnu Ventures brought an action seeking an injunction against the Department of Health and Social Services asking to address the opinion that (CON coordinator) Karen Lawfer issued stating that the hospital did not need a certificate of need to build the fourth operating room,” Rose said. “After we filed that action for an injunction, I spoke with the attorney representing the (state) department and it was her suggestion that since this was something that impacted the hospital that we bring (them) in as a party.”
Rose said Kahtnu has questions about whether all of the costs to build CPH's operating room were included in the state’s determination. They would like an independent voice to determine if the decision was indeed correct.
“We have filed an appeal of that decision and that we have sufficient time to have an independent judge hear our case and render a decision,” Rose said. “If we lose on that administrative appeal then so be it. But, we would like to have someone non-biased review her decision.”
CPH Chief Executive Officer Rick Davis explained the hospital originally obtained a CON for four surgery rooms when it started an expansion project several years ago, but never completed the fourth room, which was scheduled to become available in May. Davis said the cost of the OR was below the minimum to require a CON.
“It just begs the question of why they think it makes more sense to build a $9 million OR than the $900,000 OR when they are willing to sue us in order to make that happen,” he said.
“This is just a delay thing for them to try and get their CON approved with only using (our three surgery rooms in the calculation),” Davis said. “Ultimately we will get our fourth OR built, but they're just trying to delay it.”