Status of hospital beds sought

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By Thomas Barr

 HILLVIEW - When Jewish Hospital Medical Center South opened its door to the community in 2006, the ultimate goal was to have more than an emergency room and diagnostic testing facility.

The hope was that the largest county in Kentucky without a hospital would someday be removed from that list.

Now, with no signs of any movement toward fulfilling the 60 beds approved through a certificate of need process, there is a push to find out what is actually going on with the hospital’s plans.

And one physician, who was instrumental in the push for Jewish Hospital’s presence in the county, said that there is a need that should be met - whether it is the current CON holder or somebody else.

On Thursday, Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts hosted a meeting which featured state Sen. Dan Seum, Dr. Mohana Arla, various local officials and representatives of a group which is involved in the ownership and operation of hospitals across the country.

Roberts said health care is very important to the community and she would like to see a hospital built.

Her intent for the meeting was to see the interest and any concerns of moving the project forward.

Arla said he is not running for political office. His only intent is to see that the community has proper medical care and that a hospital was promised and is still needed.

“Jewish never had any intention of putting a hospital here,” Arla said.

With other hospitals within 10-20 minutes, Arla said he understands the thought that a hospital in northern Bullitt County may not be needed.

After eight years of no activity, Arla said he is looking for the community to decide whether it wants something done.

“It’s time for us to tell the state that the county wants the CON to be revoked or fully implemented immediately,” said Arla.

If the situation has changed and Jewish Hospital is no longer interested in building hospital beds, Arla said the CON should be given to another group that is interested.

“I just think it is important to see the hospital built,” said Arla.

John Snider, the county’s executive director for economic development, said that with a growing population, there will be a continued need for more health services.

Besides a hospital facility, Snider said a large need in the county is assisted living for senior citizens.

Seum said he worked with then-state Sen. Gary Tapp on the CON process for Jewish Hospital.

In attending the meeting, Seum said he was surprised to hear that the CON had not been fulfilled.

He wasn’t aware if the CON could be transferred to another company or if the process would have to begin again.

“The need is obvious,” said Seum. “But what’s the plan?”

One question Seum posed was whether the current location in Hillview was the right spot for a hospital.

Arla felt it should be located in Shepherdsville as it should be in the center of the county.

He added the plan should be that the governor knows that the CON is not being implemented and the people need the 60-bed hospital in their community.

Rob Murphy, administrator of the Bullitt County facility, attended the meeting.

“We’re very committed to the county,” said Murphy.

Since opening, the emergency room has grown and now sees over 30,000 patients a year. He said there has been a large number of specialists who have brought their services to the community.

And there is a number of diagnostic testing which can now be done.

Murphy said the company has undergone a lot of changes and the health care industry has also seen many changes.

The goal has been to provide quality health care for the people and Murphy said that has been done.

Murphy’s sentiments were echoed by Barbara Mackovic. senior manager for media relations with KentuckyOneHealth.

“Since Medical Center Jewish South opened its doors in 2006, we have been a leader in delivering high quality medical care within Bullitt County,” said Mackovic. “We were the first to bring full-time emergency care to the county and continue to monitor the changing needs of a rapidly evolving community.”

In terms of the status of the hospital beds, Mackovic said, “the implementation of the current Certificate of Need has been an ongoing process, balancing both the needs of the community with sustainable business decisions. This process includes - and necessitates - input from the community and local leaders. In fact, we are in the process of scheduling meetings with Judge Executive Roberts and other leaders to ensure we have heard all the views on this issue to guide our decision making process.”

Seum said he was looking for some plan and a timetable.

“If they don’t, we’ll get someone else,” said Seum.

Dan Cline, a representative of the Bullitt County Chamber of Commerce, said that there must be a timeline to hold people accountable.

Dr. Praveen Arla said he would coordinate with Roberts a timeline on when a meeting could be held with KentuckyOneHealth officials.