The Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee voted, 4-3, Monday to grant Patients First a waiver to permit the doctors' group to build a three-bed hospital with support facilities.
The waiver allows Patients First to add a hospital to its present building without going through the complete review process for a Certificate of Need.
Patients First and its contractor told the committee that they can build the hospital for less than $1 million. Facilities that cost $1 milion or more must go through the Certificate of Need review.
Opposing the waiver were St. John's Mercy Health System, which owns and operates the hospital in Washington, and the BJC hospital group, which operates the hospital in Sullivan. The opponents argued that any proposed new hospital should have to go through the complete review process. They also questioned whether the addition could be built for less than $900,000, which Patients First said the cost would be.
The opponents contended there was no need for additional hospital beds.
The committee's staff official, Tom Piper, director of the Missouri Certificate of Need Program, also questioned the cost estimate provided by Patients First. The staff estimated the cost at more than $1 million.
This proposal and the committee's position have been followed closely by other hospitals in the state since it has implications for them. Although it is not clear at this point, Patients First may be able to build additional hospital rooms in the future without the review process if under $1 million. It will have to go through the state license process for any beds.
It was not known Tuesday whether there will be any more legal appeals to the committee's action. A St. John's spokesperson said the matter is under advisement.
The committee members are appointed by the governor and includes lawmakers and people from the private sector. The committee was deadlock, 3-3, and the committee chairman voted to grant the waiver to break the tie. One member was absent and there was one abstention.
The hearing Monday lasted more than three hours.