Wellmont contests MSHA certificate of need

From Staff Reports

   Wellmont Health systems CEO and President Eddie George announced late Tuesday that Wellmont has officially challenged a certificate of need petitioned by rival Mountain States Health Alliance to move 42 beds from Northside Hospital in Washington County to the Johnson City Medical Center. MSHA recently requested the certificate of need from the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission in Nashville.
   Since October of 2000, MSHA has continued to oppose Wellmont's efforts to build a new 65-bed acute care hospital in Johnson City. MSHA has contended that the new beds are not needed in the region and has appealed Wellmont's own certificate of need. That appeal will be heard by an administrative law judge in Davidson County in January.
   "By continuing to appeal our approved certificate of need for a 65-bed hospital in Johnson City, Mountain States has successfully delayed the construction of our needed new hospital by nearly a year," said George. "We cannot ignore the inconsistency of Mountain States' assertions that its 42 acute-care beds are needed in Johnson City while our already-approved 65 acute-care beds are not."
   Mountain States Vice President Ed Herbert tells a different story.
   "We are not adding new beds in Washington County," Herbert said Wednesday. "We are simply relocating beds that are already licensed. Mr. George wants to use words and semantics to gain favorable public opinion."
   George argues that though the beds are already licensed, they have been closed for some time, and that reopening the beds at another facility is tantamount to adding new beds in the county. He alleges that MSHA is "adding acute care beds under the guise of expanding specialized services."
   The beds Wellmont is opposing are step-down and intensive care beds. Herbert says that these beds are not the same as the general medical and surgical beds MSHA is seeking to keep out of Johnson City by opposing Wellmont's drive to build a new hospital Johnson City.