What initially seemed like a boon for Summit County residents is now taking a different tone, possibly pitting doctors against doctors, and hospital against hospital. ideastream®'s Rick Jackson reports.
University Hospitals and The Cleveland Clinic are already building in Twinsburg, and the Akron General Health & Wellness Center recently opened in Stow.
Additional health services in North Summit County isn't an issue, says Dr. Tim Stover, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Akron General Hospital. But Akron General DOES object to a planned for-profit, out-patient only hospital owned and operated by about 100 doctors. Stover says the new facility would put the area's non-profit hospitals at a financial disadvantage.
STOVER: They're going to basically be able to screen patients based on whether they can pay or can't pay, and there is something inherently wrong with that.
Stover's concern is that insured or paying patients would be drawn to the new site, reducing Akron general's revenues… and its ability to treat the remaining indigent or non-covered patients who continue to seek treatment there.
Tiffany Himmelreich of the Ohio Hospital Association says there is an even larger issue.
HIMMELREICH: Physician-owned hospitals might incentivize doctors to refer patients back there, for financial gain.
That's whether the person actually needed all the tests being prescribed - or not. The OHA has no regulatory power to stop another hospital from being built, but advocates making it tougher to build facilities of ''this'' type; in Akron, or anywhere else.
HIMMELRIECH: There's currently state legislation that would require any facility in the state to be called a hospital, to include an emergency room, and the Ohio Hospital Association does back that bill.
Dr. Stover says Akron's non profit hospitals are already operating at their lowest capacities in years, and a boutique hospital is simply unnecessary.
STOVER: People need to see the other side of this equation. This is not just about a few jobs for a year or so building a hospital. Or 600 new jobs for the hospital. What about patients, with nurses and techs that are going to lose their jobs in hospitals that are probably going to close or will be closed when this place opens?
We were unable to reach the Western Reserve Hospital Partners, which reportedly plans to open and operate the facility with tax support from the area cities of Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, and Hudson - as well as from Summit County.
Rick Jackson, 90.3.