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House panel orders Mission and Park Ridge to talk

Mission Hospital said it was pleased with a state House committee's recommendation that it meet with Park Ridge Health "to discuss patient care in Western North Carolina."


The Asheville and Fletcher hospitals have been engaged in fierce competition for patients and medical business in the fast-growing South Buncombe and Fletcher area. Park Ridge and other providers successfully fought Mission's attempt to win a certificate of need (CON) to add endoscopy services to the new health care campus Mission and Pardee hospitals are jointly building on U.S. 25 on the county line.
The North Carolina House Select Committee on CON and other Hospital Related Issues recommended on Thursday that Mission Hospital and Park Ridge meet before the end of the 2013 General Assembly session to discuss patient care in Western North Carolina.
"We are satisfied with the recommendation, and we want to thank the Committee for supporting our goal of avoiding distractions and remaining focused on our BIG(GER) Aim: getting each and every patient to the desired outcome, first without harm, also without waste and with an exceptional experience for the patient and family," Ronald A. Paulus, MD, President and CEO of Mission Health, said in a news release.
"We very much appreciate the Committee's support, even though this process has at times been a distraction from our critical work of serving Western North Carolina and ignores the challenging issues facing our community. The simple reality is that Western North Carolinians are older, poorer, sicker, less likely to be insured and more likely to have medical access problems than others in our state and nation."

Park Ridge's external affairs representative praised the Select Committee's work.

The "committee recommendation is a victory for preserving access and choice for patients in Western North Carolina," said Graham Fields, assistant to the president for external affairs at Park Ridge. "The committee's decision to continue investigating Mission's activities under the COPA and consider appropriate changes to ensure a competitive healthcare landscape in the region will benefit    patients, physicians and other providers in the area."
The news release provided no details on the process for the meeting of Mission and Park Ridge officials or what the talks were expected to produce.
The Select Committee considered final recommendations regarding North Carolina's Certificate of Need. The Committee also reviewed Mission's COPA compliance five-year assessment by independent accounting firm, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP (DHG), and even more comprehensive and longitudinal compliance data provided by Mission Health. DHG was retained by the State of North Carolina to assess and issue a report of findings on Mission Hospital's COPA compliance during the five-year period from 2007-2011. The report showed that Mission Hospital was thoroughly compliant in every matter of COPA significance, the news release said.