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In brief: Hospital charity would improve, report says

The proposed buyer of Deaconess Medical Center would implement a more liberal charity care policy than current owner Empire Health Services, according to a fairness report commissioned by state regulators.

The report also put a $132 million value on Empire, less than the $156 million offer from Community Health Systems Inc.

The findings are within the 226-page analysis prepared by KPMG LLP, an international accounting firm hired by the Washington State Department of Health.

The report can be read online at (a summary is available as well).

The charity care section may diffuse worries that Community Health, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital system, would tighten the eligibility standards for charity care for patients who can’t afford to pay.

Public hearings on the proposed buyout of Deaconess are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Spokane Convention Center.

Similar meetings regarding Community Health’s proposed purchased of Valley Hospital and Medical Center are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Mirabeau Park Hotel.

John Stucke

Man nearly struck by stray bullet

A man escaped injury Monday when a bullet grazed his finger as he celebrated his 66th birthday in his yard in Spokane’s Hillyard neighborhood.

Police have not located a suspect but believe the shooting was the result of careless target practice in the Beacon Hill area near Raymond H. Jorge’s home at 4316 E. Longfellow Ave., said spokesman Cpl. Jon Strickland. Jorge was with his wife and a friend when the incident occurred and did not seek medical attention, Strickland said.

Police responded to the home about 4 p.m. and searched for suspects until about 6 p.m., Strickland said.

Several witnesses reported one to three people shooting rounds at the top of the hill.

“We believe they were up there target practicing and were not being cautious,” Strickland said. “No one was out to purposely shoot anybody.”

The officer assigned to patrol the neighborhood regularly has reported problems with target shooting and illegal dumping and camping, Strickland said. Police will likely start extra patrols in the area.

Meghann M. Cuniff


Duncan case faces another delay

The federal death penalty case for convicted murderer Joseph Duncan has been delayed again by the judge overseeing the case.

An order filed by District Judge Edward Lodge states mental health experts need at least two more weeks to determine Duncan’s competency to stand trial.

The court is trying to determine whether Duncan is competent to represent himself in his sentencing hearing for the 2005 kidnapping and abuse of Shasta and Dylan Groene and the slaying of Dylan. The children were kidnapped from their North Idaho home.

A pool of more than 300 prospective jurors was told in May to check with the court Monday to find out when jury selection might resume.

Associated Press