Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Children as Pawns in the Latest Expensive Healthcare Competition Involving BigU

Mr. B. has noted that a new medical school may be established as a partnership between Allina and St. Thomas. This apparently has gotten knickers in a twist at BigU. (Something about wasteful duplication and osteopaths being the root of all evil...) The children's hospital excesses outlined below involve a potential competition between the BigU/Fairview partnership and Allina. Maybe wasteful duplication is only bad when somebody else does it?

From the Strib:

The Minneapolis renovation is to start this year, with the St. Paul project to follow. The U of M also plans to build a new pediatric facility.

By David Phelps, Star Tribune

Last update: June 26, 2007 – 9:53 PM

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota announced Tuesday that it intends to spend $300 million for a major renovation of its campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The announcement follows one earlier this year by University of Minnesota Children's Hospital that it will build a new $175 million facility on its Fairview Riverside campus.

The dual projects have some in the health care community concerned about the level of competition in the highly specialized world of pediatric medicine.

They worry about what is in store as the two hospitals attempt to recruit staff and patients.

"Both [hospitals] have repeatedly acknowledged that the community would be better off with one world-class pediatric health and medical center which would attract first rate researchers, clinicians and medical educators to serve the needs of our kids and their families," former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger said.

He heads the National Institute of Health Policy at the University of St. Thomas.

"On the theory that better beds don't necessarily make better health care, one wonders why the community should invest upwards of $500 million with achieving the 'national center of excellence' it may be eager to support," he added.

The project will be funded through operating cash flow, bonds and philanthropic support, the hospital said.

Children's of Minneapolis and St. Paul accounts for more than half of the region's acute pediatric care admissions. It is the country's sixth largest children's health care provider and the largest in the Upper Midwest.

However, competition for young patients is growing. In addition to the University's planned expansion at Fairview Riverside, the Mayo Clinic just opened its $15 million T. Denny Sanford Pediatric Outpatient Center. South Dakotan Sanford also gave $16 million to Sioux Valley Hospitals in Sioux Falls, S.D., for the Sanford Children's Hospital.

Over the years, hospital organizations in Minnesota have attempted to pool resources to build one comprehensive children's facility but never were able to agree on the details of such a joint operation.

Critics warn that funding for the expansion projects may be difficult to obtain as philanthropic resources are stretched thin by competing fundraising efforts.

Goldbloom is undeterred.

"Competition exists now," he said. "We don't think we're changing the landscape. Facilities to treat children need to be kept up to date."

Peter Gove, co-chair of a Citizen's League committee that looked at medical facilities' decision making last year, said the current system for determining where and when hospitals and other medical centers get built is done without input from those who pay for it: Consumers.

"The system remains supplier driven, and the public policy role is limited," Gove said.

In other words the health care system will try to extract money from us by using our children? Check.

A disappointed Bonzo

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