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Central Peninsula Hospital Asks for Public Support in Opposing New Surgery Center - Archived
January 3, 2012 (Soldotna, Alaska). The management and Board of Directors of Central Peninsula Hospital are urging members of the public to oppose construction of a proposed ambulatory surgery center in Kenai, because of the severe negative impact the center will have on the hospital and the community.
Kahtnu Ventures, LLC, a for-profit business, has filed a Certificate of Need (CON) application with the State of Alaska with the goal of constructing an 8,365 square foot ambulatory surgery center (ASC) in Kenai, with projected completion in Spring 2013. A public comment period regarding the proposed center is now underway.

“There is no evidence to support the need for the proposed surgery center,” said Rick Davis, CPH Chief Executive Officer. “And if it is built, Kenai Peninsula residents will be worse off because of the detrimental impact on CPH.” Research shows that hospitals can lose up to 80% of their outpatient surgeries when a surgery center opens up in the same area. “An ASC in our community could force CPH to abandon plans to offer full service care for cancer patients, and could very well mean reductions in existing services and staff.”

The CPH board met with the Kahtnu group in June and subsequently has analyzed their proposal and ASCs in general. The board determined that the mission of CPH would not be served, and could likely be harmed, by an ASC.

“CPH has continued to invest in new technology and services without receiving tax dollars from the community,” said Loren Weimer, CPH Board President. “With the proposed surgery center, that could change.”

An ASC is a free standing medical facility that is designed and equipped to handle surgery, pain management, and certain diagnostic procedures that do not require overnight hospitalization otherwise known as outpatient services/surgery. The Certificate of Need process is designed to prevent unnecessary duplication of medical equipment, facilities and services in a marketplace. The Commissioner of Health and Social Services will make the final determination following a recommendation by the Certificate of Need office.

In a press release, Kahtnu states that a surgery center in Kenai will provide an alternative for patients who travel to Anchorage for lower cost surgeries. There is no evidence to suggest that people who leave the peninsula for surgery are doing so because they want to have it performed in an ASC. The not-for-profit CPH, which has recently been recognized by the Joint Commission as one of the nation’s Top Performers in Surgical Care, has three operating rooms, one outpatient procedure room, and is currently completing a fourth operating room. Over 50% of surgeries performed at CPH are outpatient (no overnight stay) surgeries. CPH agrees that people do travel to have surgery, but it is because certain specialties, such as cardiac surgery or neurological surgery, are not offered.

A 2006 Annual Health Needs Assessment conducted by CRG Research indicated that only 3.3% of patients surveyed reported they went to a different facility because they thought it would cost less and only 1.7% of patients surveyed went to a different facility due to scheduling.

“These numbers do not justify the damage that will be caused to the financial health of our community-owned hospital if a new surgery center is constructed,” said Davis.

The board and management team are asking community members who are concerned about the impact of a surgery center to write a letter to the State of Alaska’s CPN Program Coordinator. In order to be considered, public comments have to be submitted by January 23. Correspondence should be addressed to:

Karen Lawfer
CON Program Coordinator
Division of Health Care Services
PO Box 110660
Juneau, AK 998911-0660
Phone: (907) 465-8616
FAX: (907) 465-6861

Or by e-mail: Karen.Lawfer@alaska.gov

There is also a public hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 19 at 5 p.m. at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai.

For more information, go to www.friendsofcph.org.

CPH, formally Central Peninsula General Hospital, Inc. was established in 1971. It remains a community-owned, not-for-profit hospital in providing state-of-the-art medical services without taxing the community. CPH currently employs approximately 700 Peninsula residents.