Franklin hospital report due this week

Staff WriterApril 28, 2008 

The findings on why a Franklin County hospital was denied state permission to move from the center of the county to a location near the Wake County line will be released today.

On Friday, the Certificate of Need section of the state Department of Health and Human Services said it denied the joint application of Raleigh's Rex Healthcare and Franklin Regional Medical Center to move the hospital from Louisburg to Youngsville.

A representative of Franklin Regional said Sunday that the hospitals haven't decided whether to appeal the decision.

"We need to take a look at what the findings are and pursue from there whether we need to appeal or not," said Bonnie Little, a hospital spokeswoman.

Following the release of the report, members of the Legislative Black Caucus will hold a news conference on the hospital's attempts to leave Louisburg.

The plan, announced in November, was the second bid from the hospital's owners, Health Management Associates of Naples, Fla., to move the hospital from the center of the county to its border with Wake County.

The hospital said the move would put the facility near the greatest number of people in the county.

Opponents accused the hospital of abandoning rural and poorer residents who live in northeastern Franklin -- a charge Little denies.

"It's not about black or white. It's not about rich or poor," she said. "It's where the people are."

Chief opponents of the move, the town of Louisburg, relished the victory, said C. Boyd Sturgess III, a member of the Louisburg town council.

"We're very gratified, but we're not really surprised," Sturgess said. "It was clearly a substandard proposal."

The denial comes at a difficult time for the for-profit hospital.

Suspicious death

A recent federal report revealed serious failings in care that led to the death of a 76-year-old Henderson man who went to the hospital for elective knee surgery. In December, William Bobbitt Paschall traveled to the hospital for knee replacement surgery. He complained of numbness in his left arm and chest pains after he arrived at the hospital. Those complaints, according to the surgeon and the anesthesiologist in the report, never made it to the doctors.

Paschall died the day after he was admitted.

The hospital also will likely face a separate investigation from the N.C. Medical Board in the wake of the federal findings. A representative of the medical board would not confirm a specific investigation into the findings of the federal report but said the board had a policy of always investigating instances that lead to federal investigations.

Since the federal investigation in March, the head of the medical staff and chief executive of the hospital have been replaced.

sam.lagrone@newsobserver.com or (919) 836-4951

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