I’m sure you’ve all heard by now (as it was on last night’s news reports and in today’s papers) that MSHA is planning on building a “replacement hospital,” that is intended to replace services offered at both Northside and Johnson City Specialty Hospitals. I’m waiting on more inside information, but here’s what I’ve received thus far:

Good afternoon,

Please read the following information, then click on the attached map file and the speech I will be making at today’s event. I wanted to share this information with you before we break this news to the media. There will be more information in the coming days. I am certain you will see more on this matter tonight on television and in tomorrow’s papers.

Thank you.

Dennis Vonderfecht

MSHA to build Replacement Hospital

Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) President and CEO Dennis Vonderfecht is announcing today that the healthcare system will file three certificate of need applications to build a new, state-of-the-art, 80-bed hospital in MedTech Park to replace North Side Hospital (NSH) and Johnson City Specialty Hospital (JCSH).

MSHA looks forward to presenting the certificate of need (CON) applications to the Health Service and Development Agency for its consideration, and it is the hope of the healthcare system that the Agency will view the projects favorably.

The three projects are the result of careful planning by MSHA to allocate its resources to meet the existing and future needs of the community and include:

(1) Relocation of the 13 Franklin Transitional Care Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) beds from Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) to Quillen Rehabilitation Hospital (QRH). We will de-license 13 rehab beds for a final bed complement at QRH of 47 rehab beds and 13 SNF beds.

(2) Construction of a new hospital with 80 licensed acute care beds and 20 observation beds as a replacement facility for NSH and JCSH.

(3) Transfer of remaining 64 acute care beds from NSH/JCSH to JCMC.

The cost for the three projects is approximately $122 million. It is anticipated that half of this amount would come from internal funds while the balance would come from additional tax exempt debt.

Currently there are 95 licensed acute care beds at NSH and 49 at JCSH for a total of 144 beds. A new 80-bed hospital will be constructed with the remaining 64 beds being licensed at JCMC. The name for this project will be the North Side/Specialty Replacement Hospital (final name to be determined with community input).

MSHA Team members from JCSH and NSH will find that by consolidating the two facilities, it will enable more efficient operation of complementary services at the sites. The Emergency Department (ED) at NSH and the operating rooms (OR) from JCSH will be combined to develop a hospital capable of providing a full array of services with the same wonderful Patient-Centered Care environment they both offer today. Some other issues that led to this decision:

· More than 30 years old, NSH was built in modular fashion with several areas of NSH that do not have sprinkler systems. The dollars needed to develop NSH into a hospital of the future is simply too cost prohibitive.

· Both NSH and JCSH have mostly semi-private rooms which are not conducive to patient privacy, HIPPA regulations, and better infection control. Private rooms achieve higher patient satisfaction and facilitate family involvement in care of the patient.

· With the new facility located in Med Tech Park, it is convenient to the medical community, where multiple physician practices are relocating.

· Reallocation of beds in Washington County will relieve the congestion at the crowded JCMC campus while reducing the need for additional construction at JCMC.

The 34 SNF beds at NSH will remain there as well as the outpatient diagnostic testing components. The ED at NSH will be transformed into an urgent care center site. JCSH will be used as office and support space for various administrative needs. The 64 beds at JCMC will be licensed using existing observation beds on the 7th level, the vacated space in the current SNF unit, and in the 4500 unit (when the pediatric beds are relocated to the new Children’s Hospital).

With today’s announcement, MSHA begins a new and exciting opportunity which should result in a new state-of-the-art hospital ready to meet the needs of this market for many years to come.

Now, here is what I find particularly interesting…MSHA is filing three Certificate of Need applications to build a new, state-of-the-art hospital. Let us not forget that it was MSHA who fought the “certificate of need” application filed by Wellmont to build another hospital in Johnson City, because, as they said, MSHA is doing just fine, and we don’t need another hospital. What they meant was that Johnson City doesn’t need a non-MSHA hospital.

Now, I’m sure arguments could be made that, because this will be a “replacement” hospital, that it is not the same as building a competitor hospital. However, if Northiside and JC Specialty are not able to provide the services we need, why does MSHA get the go-ahead to replace those services, rather than bringing in some new blood? I’ll tell you…politics. MSHA has power, and I would give my eye teeth to see that power yanked away from the people who have a monopoly on our helath care system in Johnson City.

Grrrrr….Jama is ANGRY!!! I’ll keep you posted as I receive more information on this “fleecing of Johnson City.”