State denies portion of CPH expansion

KENAI, Alaska (AP) — The state has denied portions of a $43 million expansion plan for Central Peninsula Hospital.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner William Streur followed the recommendations of the review department and did not approve CPH plans to build two additional endoscopy clinics or plans to expand the hospital’s imaging capacity with MRI, PET and CT scans, the Peninsula Clarion reported (http://is.gd/ddi7r4).

Jared Kosin, with the department’s office of rate review, said the state denied the addition of two endoscopy suites because they included anesthesia machines in the suites. The state determined that equipment is not needed to perform the procedures.

Some people making public comments to the state warned that approving the suites with the anesthesia machines would mean the space could later be converted into ambulatory surgery suites without the hospital having to get further approval.

“The next step is a basic conversion without need to go through a Certificate of Need again,” Kosin said.

Hospital officials said creating additional surgery suites wasn’t part of the plan.

The state also denied new imaging because it said the application lacked a documented need for the services.

A conditional use permit was conditionally issued for the remainder of the expansion project: a 5,100 square-foot infusion therapy clinic, pain management clinic, orthopedic clinic, a 10,000 square-foot spine clinic and additional undetermined clinic space.

To remove the “conditional” part from the document, a revised budget removing $4.6 million for the denied parts of the plan must be approved and sent back to the state. That has been done but Kosin didn’t know when he might make a recommendation.

Hospital officials are racing to get that approval, though, since the project’s approved cost hinges on the ability to sell revenue bonds at a specific interest rate available in February.

The project has been controversial. Before the borough assembly voted to approve the bonds in October, many members of the public said they weren’t aware of the expansion plan and urged a delay so people could become more informed.

Hospital officials countered there were 22 public meetings on the expansion in the last year alone. The assembly approved the bond sale.

Assembly member Kelly Wolf voted against the bond sales at that meeting, arguing for a two-week delay.

He told the Clarion he was not informed about the state’s partial denial.

Wolf said the lack of notice “did not speak well” for hospital and borough administrators, who have known about it for a month.

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Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, http://www.peninsulaclarion.com

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