The state put the brakes on Mission Health and Pardee Hospital’s proposal to relocate an endoscopy center from Asheville to Fletcher today, Aug. 26. Mission officials say they’re committed to moving forward with the plan, according to an online report at BlueRidgeNow.com (the Hendersonville Times-News website).
But state legislators seem to have their eye on Mission, the sixth largest in the state but much smaller than at least two other systems that have facilities in Western North Carolina — Adventist Health, which owns Park Ridge Hospital in Fletcher; and Carolinas Health, which administers three MedWest hospitals in WNC. In a climate that in recent months has seen allegations that the Asheville-based health-care system may have a monopoly in the region, legislators have formed a new commission that will study the issue. (See Mission’s response to these charges here; see an opposing view at the WNC Choices website here.)
The N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation denied Mission Health and Pardee Hospital’s request, according to the BlueRidgeNow.com report. The same day, N.C. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, Republican, announced that he’s formed a legislative commission that will study, among other things, how the review process for such proposals works and, more specifically, the rules that govern Mission Health.
When a health organization proposes a new facility like the endoscopy center, it must demonstrate there’s a need for it. “North Carolina’s Certificate of Need law sets the conditions for the construction or addition of health care service facilities in the state,” according to a N.C. General Statue 131E‐17 and “a hospital operating under a Certificate of Public Advantage.”
Mission was formed under such a COPA 15 years ago; the agreement set forth rules that allowed Memorial Mission Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital — both located on Biltmore Avenue near downtown Asheville — to merge. Pardee is owned by Henderson County and governed by its commissioners — the kind of arrangement that’s set forth in N.C. G.S. 131E-17. In recent months, Henderson County Commissioners delayed allowing Pardee to select a new CEO, finally allowing the community hospital’s board to move forward in the process and work out a partnership agreement with UNC-Health Care, a system that’s affiliated with the UNC School of Medicine.
For documents on file, such as Franklin Rep. Jim Davis’ bill that would possibly have curtailed Mission’s expansion plans (but which stalled in committee review and did not prevent Angel Medical in his town from entering an cooperative agreement with Mission), click here. For more background and news from the past few months, click here.
Stay tuned as Xpress looks a little deeper into the underlying issues and the news as it develops.