The state Department of Health has completed its review of a New York-based company’s 75-bed mental health hospital application for Thurston County — and the project will move forward once the company agrees to the state’s conditions.
The state’s review of the US HealthVest certificate of need application, which is required when hospitals propose new facilities or changes to existing facilities, was completed last week, certificate of need manager Janis Sigman said. She expects to hear from the company about whether it accepts the state’s decision in the next 10 to 15 days.
Officials with US HealthVest, which is also building a similar hospital in Marysville, believe that Thurston County and the region have unmet mental health needs. The company proposes to spend $18.4 million to renovate an existing office building at 605 Woodland Square Loop SE in Lacey. The goal is to open in fall 2018.
After US HealthVest announced its intentions, Providence St. Peter Hospital and Fairfax Behavioral Health put forth their own certificate of need application for an 85-bed psychiatric hospital that would be newly constructed in Lacey. It was filed June 21, and the state is evaluating the merits of that application, Sigman said.
Chris Thomas, a spokesman for Providence in Southwest Washington, called the state’s approval of the US HealthVest plan “disappointing,” but they still plan to move forward with the Providence/Fairfax proposal.
“This decision right now doesn’t change our plans, and we’re confident in the long run that our unique proposal with Fairfax best meets the community’s need,” Thomas said.
Providence officials have come out against the US HealthVest proposal and shared their concerns at a recent public hearing. Thomas said Providence expects to have a public hearing on its certificate of need application soon.
US HealthVest officials said they have received about 100 letters of support for their project. They also said that of 45 letters opposing the project, 39 were from Providence or those who have ties to the organization.
Meanwhile, US HealthVest will have to agree to a dozen state conditions, including a requirement that it raise its proposed charity care spending to meet or exceed the average amount of charity care provided by hospitals in southwest Washington. Those figures are 3.42 percent of gross revenue, or 8.62 percent of adjusted revenue. Adjusted revenue is total revenue, minus Medicare and Medicaid revenue, Sigman said.
There’s also an appeal process. If someone doesn’t like the state’s decision on the US HealthVest application, it can be appealed. For example, it could be appealed to the state Department of Health for reconsideration, or appealed to an Adjudicative Service Unit before a health law judge. Those decisions, too, can be appealed, Sigman said.
Thomas said there’s been no decision about whether to appeal.