MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Mon General Hospital is demanding the West Virginia Health Care Authority hold a hearing on whether WVU Hospitals' $248 million expansion plan is necessary, effectively delaying the four-year construction project by at least six months.
Darryl Duncan, president of Mon Health System, said the purpose of the state's certificate of need process is to control costs, improve quality and efficiency, encourage collaboration and develop a system that makes health care accessible to all West Virginians.
"A public hearing should be welcomed when so much is as stake," he said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
"Health care reform requires a higher level of accountability than we've previously experienced," Duncan said, and the focus must shift "from a reactionary system to one of prevention and maintenance."
Value should also be considered to ensure "the consumer should be receiving the highest quality care at the lowest possible cost," he said.
But Bruce McClymonds, president and chief executive officer of WVU Hospitals, said he's frustrated that the smaller community hospital would object-and rebuff offers to discuss how the two might collaborate. McClymonds said he reached out to Mon General about the need for more beds last April, but "they refused all those ideas and suggestions."
"It is very frustrating," he said. "This is not a Mon General issue. This is not a local issue. This is a statewide issue."
More than 5,000 patients a year are transferred to WVU Hospitals from other facilities in the region, including more than 200 last year from Mon General, McClymonds said. Many needed specialty services that only WVU Hospitals can deliver.
Marianne Kapinos, general counsel to the Health Care Authority, said Monday was the deadline for objections to WVU Hospitals' certificate of need request, and that's when Mon General's letter arrived. She said it will be up to attorneys for the hospitals to work out a hearing schedule.
McClymonds said that hearing, to which WVU Hospitals cannot legally object, will delay the project by at least six months, "and it may be more like eight or nine months."
Mon General would also be entitled to appeal should it dislike the first ruling.
Several years ago, objections by Fairmont General Hospital delayed the eventual construction of United Hospital Center in Clarksburg by three years.
"Every month of delay increases the likelihood of patients having to leave the state for care," McClymonds said. "It also makes the project more expensive, which could put some crucial segments of the expansion at risk."