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Former CPH CEO offers insights on proposed surgical center

Posted: January 13, 2012 - 9:53am

As a former CEO of Central Peninsula Hospital (2002-2006), I would like comment on the proposed for-profit ambulatory surgery center (ASC) in Kenai.

I strongly believe in competition and, generally, competition is good for the health care industry and the patients served. However, I think it is critically important to look at the broader picture and take into account the impact that a free standing ASC might have on the viability of CPH and the essential health care services the hospital provides to the community. National studies show that ASCs tend to concentrate on low-risk, high-profitability cases, leaving hospitals with higher-risk, lower-profitability cases and the responsibility to provide the full array of services their communities require, many of which result in significant losses for hospitals. The report of the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century underscores that freestanding ASCs deprive hospitals of much-needed revenue and correspondingly undermine their ability to serve their communities. Some communities (e.g. the Greater New York Health Authority) have called for a moratorium on the establishment of new freestanding, non-hospital-sponsored ASCs because of their negative impact on hospitals and hospitals' ability to provide needed services to their communities.

During my tenure at CPH, I had the privilege of working with the Board of Directors, medical staff, community leaders and others to design a hospital expansion project to meet community needs for the next several decades. This expansion project was approved by the voters and resulted in a badly needed 74,500 square foot addition to the hospital that included, private inpatient rooms, a new Laboratory, Pharmacy, Cardiopulmonary and Sleep Center, Central Sterile Processing and others.

It's important to note that this expansion project focused heavily on the surgical needs of the community then and into the future. Based on projected community needs and input from our medical staff, this project included the addition of a state-of-art Surgery Department with the capacity for four operating rooms. To save money, only three ORs were initially completed, with the fourth "shelled in" for future development as demand for surgery grew. I understand the 4th operating room will be completed in May 2012. Based on planning estimates, completion of this additional OR should assure ample surgical capability for the next several decades. I predict the state Certificate of Need process will validate this capability as they review the proposed ASC application.

Don't be fooled into thinking that a for-profit entity has your best interests at heart and is a good thing for the community! The physician owners will profit by collecting not only the physician fee, but also the facility (hospital) fee. Services like surgery, imaging and others help subsidize costly services like the ER, Diabetes education and many more. Also, a robust hospital-based Surgery Service helps make it possible for the hospital to provide nearly $6M worth of uncompensated medical care to low income and indigent patients every year.

In evaluating the merits of free competition, I think that community members have not only the right but the responsibility to take into account the impact that a new freestanding ASC might have on the local hospital and the essential health care services the hospital provides to the community. I encourage elected officials, community leaders and others to oppose the proposed ASC and instead focus your efforts on developing the next level of services needed on the peninsula like a cancer center, cardiac services and others.

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Carver 01/14/12 - 06:59 am
Full-service Hospice . . .

". . focus your efforts on developing the next level of services needed on the peninsula . . "

We need a full-service Hospice, and CPH is the logical provider.

Cogliostro 01/16/12 - 08:12 am
Let the free market decide.

Let the free market decide. Let the ASC open, and then let the public vote 'yes' or 'no' with their pocket book. The physicians will either take the loss and stay open, or they will close up shop.

bewildered 01/16/12 - 10:46 am
This is more than just simply

This is more than just simply a business opening or closing up shop. IF it opens the damage to community would be done. Jobs and critical services lost for the community. Property taxes increased. Please think about the community as a whole and not just your own interest. WE spoke out about the potential selling of the hospital because we wanted health care to stay community minded. Let us hold fast to that stand.

liftit 01/17/12 - 05:36 am
Which of the two will offer

Which of the two will offer better care to their patients? That is the real question. Call me selfish, but when I want to have knee surgery(an elective procedure), I don't give a hoot about supporting the indigent. I want a lesser chance of infection and a more efficient surgery.

When I had my surgery, I was offered a choice. The choice was between Alaska Regional Hospital and The Surgery Center, which my surgeon had 1% ownership in. I chose the Surgery Center based upon the advice of medical professionals. That was my one and only personal experience with any type of medical procedure, but I was impressed greatly when I compared it to the service that relatives have experienced.

cheapersmokes 01/17/12 - 09:12 am
Surgery Center

Folks, When I had my brain surgery for a ruptured basiliar tip artery brain anyuerism back in 1991 I went to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Mpls, MN since they accepted my insurance plan. I had a plan which is now called Medica. It negotiated prices to be paid for everything down to a single aspirin. It took a team of 10 neurosurgeons, 12 hours to do the surgery since it had never been done in the world before, They had agreed to accept a total of $8,000 to do it. They got paid $66.67 a hour for their long day in surgery. But they did get paid a $1,000 per CAT scan and I had 3 of those every day for about 6 weeks. The total bill was just a few dollars under $500,000 and my share of it was only $73.45 mainly for back rub lotion since the Head of Neurosurgery gave me permission to smoke in my room and the staff would come into my room and smoke instead of going outside and the Staff Physicist told them they had to give me a back rub if they were going in my room to smoke.

This hospital has to accept everyone and they make up for that with different levels of charges for those with insurance, self pays and those without insurance. I would assume the CPH is the same and they are very worried about their take home pay going down a dollar or so and that is why your seeing such opposition to the surgery center taking place. I say let them build it and as long as the patient has a choice of where they want it done then all can live with it in the future.

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