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Kentucky’s Medical Centers Are Duking It Out Over Christ Hospital’s Expansion Plans

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There is a certain level of irony over two medical giants fighting to death over land use near the Buttermilk Pike, but truth is stranger than fiction. But it’s also an important story – one that should be given a little more status, perhaps, than it has – for a few reasons.

To recap: Christ Hospital Health Network bought some land that sits on I-71 and I-75 in Northern Kentucky. They want to build a new outpatient surgical center there (a $24 million project), and according to Cincinnati.com, would be the anchor building for new housing and retail buildings. In order for Christ Hospital to build there, they need a certificate of need: a document from Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services that will “control costs by preventing unnecessary construction or duplication of services.”

But St. Elizabeth Healthcare says the new center would be “an unfair effort to cherry-pick wealthier patients in a market where nine outpatient surgical centers already operate at less than full capacity” by Christ Hospital, because there are already nine “ambulatory surgical centers” in the northern Kentucky region. St Elizabeth, which merged with St. Luke’s system back in 2008, owns six of them.

A corporate giant, an overly selective hospital – or something else altogether?

The problem can be viewed in two ways: St. Elizabeth’s system is essentially a monopoly, which means that Christ Hospital is offering some much-needed competition. However, St. Elizabeth also bears the weight of caring for patients on Medicaid – a weight that Christ Hospital would avoid by serving an area that is much more likely to be well-insured. (The Cincinnati.com article offers a more extensive explanation of the problems, which we would encourage you to read.)

From our perspective, there’s a different problem altogether: namely, that patients often forget that hospitals are businesses first, and providers second. We’re watching two of the best hospitals systems in the region (Christ Hospital is #1 in Cincinnati and #5 in Ohio, and St. Elizabeth is #5 in the Cincinnati metro area, though they earned the #3 spot in Kentucky) fight for more patients, and for specific “kinds” of patients, in order to make money. There has been no discussion of what kinds of new technologies or services either system will offer – only discussions about how much more money they can make. And while both promise to be cost-effective for patients, there is no indication that people will save any more money.

There are some extraordinary doctors in each of these systems, and some not-so-extraordinary ones, too. But at the end of the day, these medical “titans” aren’t battling it out for your health: they’re doing it for your money. It’s why civil lawsuits against hospitals on behalf of injured patients are often the only truly effective tool for stopping dangerous practices. You have to hit them where it hurts: their wallets.

At Crandall & Pera Law, we represent the best interests of medical malpractice victims in Kentucky and Ohio. We have successfully represented clients who have been hurt in hospitals served by both the Christ Hospital Health Network and St. Elizabeth Healthcare. If you need an attorney who will fight for you, Crandall & Pera Law is here. To work with our medical malpractice lawyer, please call out Kentucky office at 877.651.7764, or our Ohio team at 877.686.8879. You can also reach us through our contact form.

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