Hospitals without real need

For years Baptist Hospital has been trying to put beds in its Nine Mile Road facility and make it a full hospital. West Florida Hospital is only blocks away and has empty beds. Baptist exec Jerry Maygarden tried repeatedly to get special bills tacked on to legislation to make it happen. Sacred Heart, WFH and the Santa Rosa Medical Center all successfully fought it.

Maygarden’s argument has been that their patients have requested it and that they need the revenue from the Nine Mile Road center to offset what they lose taking care of the poor at the main hospital on E Street.

Well, Nemours has a similar problem in Orlando where they want to build a children’s hospital. Read Nemours may outlast regulators .

Maygarden has said that hospitals should stand on their own and let the free market work. Certificates of need are antiquated. Nemours seems to agree in Orlando where it would benefit.

However, there is a counter:

Rich Morrison, a Florida Hospital vice president who specializes in government and regulatory affairs, said pediatric hospitals are vulnerable to competition because relatively few children need their services, and those who might have required hospitalization in the past are increasingly handled as outpatients.

Children’s hospitals “have to have a certain volume of basic, bread-and-butter pediatrics [such as appendectomies and broken bones] to help support the less frequent, much more expensive specialty work,” Morrison said. “If you don’t have that kind of volume in the community, then you run a real risk of disruption” in existing services.

Morrison only half-jokingly professes to love the certificate-of-need process. “The people who don’t like CONs are people who can’t get what they want,” he said. “Once they get what they want, they feel differently.”