Around and Around

Around and Around

Judge orders state health commissioner to reconsider Broadlands Regional Medical Center decision.

Judge Theodore Markow of the Circuit Court of Richmond has ordered that state health commissioner Robert Stroube reconsider his decision to grant the proposed Broadlands Regional Medical Center a certificate of public need.

By March 17, according to Markow's orders, Stroube must re-distribute the administrative record on his decision. Stroube had failed to include e-mail correspondence regarding Broadlands Regional Medical Center in his first account of the record up to Dec. 19, 2003.

Stroube must also conduct a hearing within 30 days of March 17 regarding any information that was not in the original record.

Thirty days after that, Stroube must present new decisions on both the Broadlands Regional Medical Center and inpatient beds at Loudoun Healthcare's Cornwall Street facility, which Stroube denied.

BOTH HOSPITALS involved claimed a little victory from the decision. Loudoun Healthcare and Hospital Corporation of America, which owns the Broadlands site and is one of the largest for-profit hospital chains in the country, have pitched a battle over Broadlands Regional Medical Center for several years.

Loudoun Healthcare has objected to the Broadlands site, which is approximately five miles from its Lansdowne campus. It argued that a small, nonprofit like Loudoun Healthcare could not compete with a new 164-bed facility nearby. Its appeal of Strobe's decision took the issue to court.

Loudoun Healthcare's recent merger with Inova Health Systems, however, changes the terrain: Inova is the largest provider of health care in Northern Virginia.

"A state permit to build a hospital in Broadlands no longer exists," said Rob Huebbers, president and CEO of Loudoun Hospital in a statement.

Markow did not, however, throw out the Broadlands possibility altogether. And he did not rule on the more serious of Loudoun Healthcare's charges against Stroube, that the health commissioner's decision to reverse his earlier denial of Broadlands' certificate of public need was "arbitrary and capricious" — and it was this that Broadlands CEO Bryan Dearing seized upon.

"Judge Markow has affirmed that the commissioner's decision approving BRMC is not arbitrary and capricious, is supported by substantial evidence and complies with the State Medical Facilities Plan," Dearing said. "We're confident the commissioner will come to the same conclusion when he issues his final case decision."

Stroube is required to rule on both the Broadlands and Cornwall certificates of public need by May 17.