Company seeks OK to build new Cape hospital

Friday, December 10, 2004

Paperwork recently filed with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has set in motion events that may ultimately result in construction of a $5 million long-term health-care facility in Cape Girardeau.

Earlier this week, a newly formed company called Landmark Hospital of Cape Girardeau LLC filed a letter of intent to seek "certificate of need" approval from the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee to build a 30-bed long-term acute-care hospital at 3255 Independence St.

If approved, Landmark would be the only such facility between St. Louis and Memphis.

"When we look at the full continuum of care required for an aging population, one clear gap in the region is long-term acute care," said Michael Norman, the company's chief executive officer. He said this project will meet the needs of patients within a 75-mile radius of Cape Girardeau, including part of Southern Illinois.

Norman said that as a long-term acute care hospital, Landmark would provide diagnostic and medical treatment and rehabilitation to patients with chronic diseases or complex medical conditions. He said these patients are often too sick for skilled nursing facilities and yet probably not sick enough to warrant occupying the intensive care beds of regular acute-care facilities like Saint Francis Medical Center or Southeast Missouri Hospital on a long-term basis. Those hospitals are primarily for short-term stays.

Norman said that about 90 percent of the patients in this facility will be Medicare patients, and that being the case, Medicare requires that the average stay of the those patients be 25 days or longer. Furthermore, Landmark will work strictly on referrals from Southeast, Saint Francis and other hospitals and nursing homes in the area. And although it is officially termed as a hospital, Landmark will not run an emergency service, rather purchasing that and other services such as laboratory and operating room time, and imaging services from the other area hospitals.

"We do not compete with the hospitals or nursing homes," Norman said. "Rather we develop relationships working with them."

Saint Francis will actually control about 30 percent of the operations at the Landmark Hospital, while Landmark partners Norman and Dr. William Kapp hold the other 70 percent. Saint Francis president and CEO Steve Bjelich said that this project will benefit his hospital and its patients by allowing those patients to stay close to family, friends and primary care physicians.

Southeast Hospital president Jim Wente agreed that Landmark would provide a needed service that isn't currently available in this area.

"We're supportive, and we hope it succeeds," Wente said.

However, before construction can begin, the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee -- a group of legislators and health-care professionals appointed by the governor, the president pro tem of the Missouri Senate and the speaker of the state House of Representatives -- must approve a certificate of need.

Following the filing of its letter of intent, Landmark will submit a formal application for the certificate of need in January with the committee ruling following in late March, according to Tom Piper, director of the state's Certificate of Need Program. If the committee deems the project a needed service in this area, a certificate of need will be issued. Norman said at that time, construction would begin immediately. Barring unforeseen complications, the hospital would open February 2006.

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