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DOH Recommendations Reveal Evolving Regional Health Planning and CON Reform Approach

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The Department of Health (DOH) provided a glimpse into how it plans to take a regional approach to health care capacity as it addressed Certificate of Need (CON) proposals for the expansion of three Rochester hospitals.

The State Hospital Review and Planning Council (SHRPC) Project Review Committee on Thursday approved plans to add 105 licensed beds and approved new construction to upgrade and relocate existing beds at the three hospitals. The facilities, Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester General Hospital, and Unity Hospital had applied for a total of 244 new beds.

The approvals recommended by DOH carried with them flexibility that would allow a more streamlined process for bringing additional beds online if the need arises and if the hospitals are in compliance with all conditions of the approvals. The projects must go before the full SHRPC for approval. The factors DOH considered, in addition to the bed need formulas, included:

  • incidence of preventable hospitalizations;
  • non-emergent emergency room visits;
  • consideration of peak occupancy situations when utilization exceeds 100% of available capacity;
  • impact on sustainability of community hospitals;
  • collaboration among hospitals, physicians, and community-based providers;
  • ongoing collaboration with the local health planning agency, the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency.

Also on Thursday, the SHRPC Planning Committee, in conjunction with DOH and the Public Health Council, held the second in a series of two hearings soliciting input on reforming CON and local health planning. Invited stakeholders described frustrations with the current CON system, including delays in paperwork that add months to construction timetables, and described the additional costs to the system associated with the delays.

Through hearings and Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers (HEAL NY) local health planning grants, the state is soliciting models of bringing grassroots community input into the health planning process. HANYS provided testimony at a hearing in July and is continuing to gather information to provide to DOH as it addresses reforming CON and creating a new model for health planning. DOH is posting stakeholders’ testimony on its Web site.

Contact: Karen Roach

Published September 22, 2008