Private hospitals file suit against UMMC - - Jackson, MS

Private hospitals file suit against UMMC

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By Ashley Conroy

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Three major hospitals in Jackson, Baptist, St. Dominic, and Central Mississippi Medical Center, filed an injunction against the state's largest medical research institution, the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

The debate goes back to Certificate of Need Laws and whether UMMC should receive another major piece of medical equipment called a "linear accelerator" for radiation treatment in cancer patients. 

UMMC currently has two housed in their cancer center at the Jackson Medical Mall, but want to add one to their main campus.

Vice President of Business Development for St. Dominic-Jackson Paul Arrington says St. Dominic has two linear accelerators, but in order to obtain these, first they had to apply for a CON through the state health department.

Arrington says if UMMC is granted another one without applying for CON, then it provides them with an "unfair" competitive advantage.

"Then they will be seeking unfair advantage and it will harm other hospitals from providing good access and quality," Arrington said.

"And we feel that Baptist position, HME, and St. Dominic is the correct one," Kurt Metzer, President and CEO of Baptist Health System, said in an interview with WLBT on Monday.

UMC's Vice Chancellor of University Relations, Dr. James Keeton, said in a statement that UMC should be exempt from the same abiding rules as other hospitals.

"As the state's only academic health science center, the University of Mississippi Medical Center plays a unique role in meeting the State's needs for healthcare professionals, advanced and safety-net patient care, and emergency response. Subjecting UMMC to CON law will hinder our efforts to provide the very best training for future health professionals for Mississippi," said Keeton.

Under the State Health Plan, it is a requirement for private hospitals to apply for a CON when adding a new piece of equipment or undergoing major construction.

Chief Legal Council Bob Fagan, from the State Health Department, released this statement about UMMC in regards to CON laws:

"The enabling legislation establishing UMMC provides it is to be a teaching hospital.  As such, the State Health Plan includes specific exceptions from the CON requirements for equipment purchases by UMMC which are for the teaching purposes of the hospital.  The exceptions in the State Health Plan to the CON requirements are in line with the Attorney General's Official opinion issued on June 9, 2010."

In addition, Dr. Keeton has said he would like to see UMC's image change from a "charity" hospital to a "hospital of choice," but they would use the extra funding for research purposes.

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