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Approval sought for more nursing beds

SoVaNow.com / June 26, 2013
Halifax Regional Health System is seeking public comment on whether it should be allowed to move forward with plans to install 18 additional beds at Meadowview Terrace in Clarksville. The hearing on whether to grant a Certificate of Public Need (COPN) is set for July 9 at 2 p.m. at the South Boston Town Council Chambers, 502 Yancey St.

Sam Clement, who will conduct the hearing for the Department of Health, says he expects to issue his report and recommendation on whether to issue the license on July 19. Ten days thereafter, it will be transmitted to the Virginia health commissioner, who will make a final ruling in mid-August, assuming there is no opposition.

Currently, Community Memorial Healthcenter in South Hill has filed a letter in opposition to the expansion. Clement said that is not uncommon, even though CMH has not applied for a COPN for its own long-term care facility. Usually letters in opposition do not halt the issuance of a COPN.

It would be uncommon, Clement said, if CMH took the next step, which is to request an informal fact-finding on the matter. CMH has until five days after Clement issues his report to make such a filing.

Their brief setting forth the reasons an informal fact finding hearing is necessary would be due ten days after that. Clement said one reason for holding an informal fact finding is because there are competing COPN applications. That is not the case with Meadowview Terrace.

According to Peter Boswell, Director of the Certificate of Public Need Program for the Virginia Department of Health, no certificate of public need can be issued unless the Commissioner first finds a need for the project, after considering three factors. The Commissioner will look at:

the relationship of the project to the long-term health care state plan,

the need for enhanced facilities to serve the population of an area,

the extent to which the project is accessible to all residents in the proposed area and the immediate economic impact and financial feasibility of the project.

In 2010, the Department of Health found that none of its 22 health planning districts needed additional beds for long-term care patients. But, that was before South Boston Manor, a 54-bed facility shut its doors in South Boston. Instead of building a new facility, Halifax Regional Health System, owner of Meadowview Terrace, is asking permission to install 18 of the 40 beds at its facility in Clarksville. The remaining 36 beds would go to Halifax Regional Health System’s Woodview facility in South Boston.

Construction of a new wing to house the 18 beds at Meadowview is expected to cost approximately $2.75 million. These beds would be open to anyone in need of extended care services on a first come first served basis.

Members of the public are allowed to make comments and are limited to 3 minutes each. Individuals who wish to speak should be there promptly at 1:30 p.m. to sign in. Public support for the COPN is very important in determining the need for these additional beds. Therefore, Halifax Regional Health System is asking the public to attend the hearing, even if you do not wish to make comments.

Written comments on either the Clarksville of the South Boston projects, not presented at this hearing, should be sent to the Virginia Department of Health, Division of COPN, at 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 401, Henrico, Virginia 23233.

The Virginia Certificate of Public Need (COPN) program requires owners and sponsors of identified medical care facility projects to secure a COPN from the State Health Commissioner prior to initiating projects such as nursing facility services. The program seeks to contain health care costs while ensuring financial viability and access to health care for all Virginia at a reasonable cost.

Once the hearing is complete, Halifax Regional Health System may have to wait at least 60-90 days before it knows whether it will be allowed to move forward with its expansion plans at either Meadowview Terrace or Woodview.

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