Carson-Tahoe Officials consider 'short stay' hospital

The next step for Carson-Tahoe Hospital board members in the transition to a private corporation is expected today in a proposal for a joint venture with local physicians to build a new "short stay" surgical center.

Carson City supervisors approved the switch a week ago from publicly owned hospital to private, nonprofit corporation, and trustees have moved rapidly since then. They voted Saturday to build a new hospital.

The proposal to be discussed today would expand services now offered at Carson-Tahoe Hospital into a new facility and give the hospital a larger interest.

The existing facility, known as Carson Ambulatory Surgery Center Inc., treats surgical patients needing procedures that don't require a lengthy stay. The center is located in the hospital and Carson-Tahoe holds a 9 percent interest, the balance owned by physicians.

"We want to be no less than an equal partner, but we also have to make sure that it fits within a nonprofit organization," said Ed Epperson, the hospital's chief executive officer. "We'll be looking to the IRS to have them rule that our portion of the income is nontaxable."

The existing facility has no beds for extended stays and can keep patients for a maximum of 24 hours. The new facility would expand to a separate surgical short-stay hospital that could keep patients about three days.

Hospital officials have said the move is expected to streamline service in addition to helping alleviate the shortage of regular hospital beds. Overhead is lower in this kind of hospital, which ultimately lowers costs for patients. These kinds of partnerships also give local physicians a stake in the hospital's success.

Trustees have said previously that physicians commonly usurp the most lucrative services, leaving hospitals to provide those that ultimately lose money. One of the best safeguards against the practice is partnerships with those physicians.

This type of transaction also decreases the hospital's capital output, thereby increasing the amount of money officials can borrow for other purposes.

In other business:

-- As part of the hospital's transition from public to private nonprofit, the Board of Trustees is asking residents to serve on a committee for three years, with annual renewal thereafter.

Current members of the Board of Trustees will be the initial Board of Directors and review applications. They're seeking a cross section of residents from incorporated and unincorporated areas of Carson City. Those members will be responsible for the election of directors for the newly-formed Carson-Tahoe Health System.

A registration fee of $25 is required with the application and will be refunded if the applicant is not chosen. Applications will be accepted through Aug. 3. Call Jan Hewitt at 885-4433 for information.


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