February 26, 2010 in City, News

Sacred Heart boots Rockwood from hospital offices

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The Rockwood Clinic will have to vacate 48,000 square feet of offices, patient exam rooms and surgery suites on the Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center campus after failing to rework lease agreements.

The changes are the latest fallout from Rockwood’s surprise $50 million sale last year to Community Health Systems Inc. to form an integrated health care system with Deaconess Medical Center.

Rockwood, which had strong ties with Sacred Heart until the sale was announced, has drawn the ire of Sacred Heart administrators. While rhetoric may have softened, tough decisions continue to be made, such as insisting Rockwood vacate its premises by June 30.

The move affects five leases covering about 38,000 square feet in the Sacred Heart Doctors Building, including Rockwood’s ambulatory surgery center on the seventh floor. Another lease covers 10,000 square feet in the Providence Heart & Vascular Institute.

“Unfortunately, allowing physicians employed by CHS – our primary competitor – to occupy prime space on the Sacred Heart campus for years to come is not in the best interest of Providence,” wrote Sacred Heart administrators in an open letter to staff.

Rockwood is the region’s largest medical clinic, with 133 physicians and about 900 staff working at 32 clinics. With 160,000 patients each year and a wide variety of services, it is a key player in hospital admission numbers and economics.

Rockwood administrators have said they intend to refer 90 percent of their patients needing hospitalization to Deaconess within five years. The clinic has historically sent 90 percent of patients to Sacred Heart.

Rockwood physician and executive Dr. Craig Whiting said the decisions would not disrupt patient care. The clinic is considering a range of options, he said, declining to reveal where Rockwood might relocate.

Sharon Fairchild, vice president of communications for Sacred Heart, said canceling the leases will ensure that the hospital can accommodate other doctors’ practices and programs.

She noted that Sacred Heart wishes to maintain its long relationships with Rockwood doctors. They will retain medical privileges at the hospital and Sacred Heart will continue to provide time in its own ambulatory surgery center and operating rooms.

Rockwood had attempted to keep its leases – ranging from three to nine years – by seeking Sacred Heart’s consent to allow the clinic to assign its leases to Community Health Systems.

Sacred Heart officials pondered the request for two months before rejecting it.

Neither Whiting nor Fairchild disclosed the value of the leases.


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