Fall hearing set for Cath lab

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NATCHEZ — A hearing to decide which local hospital can open a catheterization lab is set to begin in late September.

A Mississippi State Department of Health legal document said MSDH scheduled the hearing Sept. 27 to Oct. 1 in Jackson in response to Natchez Community Hospital’s appeal to the state health department’s decision to allow Natchez Regional Medical Center operate a cath lab.

NCH officials filed for a certificate of need in December to build and operate a cath lab, and NRMC officials filed for a certificate of need in January to reopen its existing lab.

States require certificates of need to restrain health care facility costs and allow coordinated planning of new services and construction.

MSDH ruled in favor of NRMC in May. NCH appealed the decision in early June with a request to present its case to an independent hearing to review the state’s decision.

A single hearing will conduct a review of NRMC and NCH’s requests to operate a cath lab.

If the hearing rules in favor of NCH, a certificate of need would allow it to build a cath lab and provide cardiac catheterization testing. If the decision favors NRMC, its current cath lab would provide cardiac catheterization testing and digital subtraction angiography, a service used for interventional radiology.

Before the hearing date, both parties must meet periodic deadlines to exchange information for discovery and issue subpoenas.

If neither party agrees to a pretrial order by Sept. 20, an additional hearing will be set no later than Sept. 23.

Attorneys for both hospitals waived a requirement to premark exhibits to be introduced into evidence. Therefore, evidence can be introduced at any time during the hearing.

According to a MSDH comparative analysis of both requests, NRMC’s former authorization to operate the lab expired in 2007 because no cardiologist was on staff to operate it at the time. NCH was authorized to operate a mobile cath lab from 1997 until 1999, which also ceased operations due to the loss of its cardiologist.