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Court rules in favor of Rush open-heart unit

By By Sharon White/The Meridian Star
With only one more possible legal hurdle to overcome, it is looking more likely a second open-heart unit in Meridian will soon be a reality.
Rush Foundation Hospital officials learned Tuesday a Chancery Court judge in Hinds County had rejected an appeal from Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center to block the heart unit.
It was the fourth such legal action taken in the last year by JARMC, which currently operates Meridian's only cardiovascular surgery and cardio-therapeutic catheterization unit. The next, and final, option for JARMC officials would be to appeal Chancery Judge Stuart Robinson's ruling before the Mississippi State Supreme Court, officials said.
He said earlier arrangements involving staff selection and training will begin immediately. Meanwhile, renovations on the hospital's second floor will begin in within a matter of days.
Rush officials began their legal fight in June 1999, when they filed a "certificate of need" for an open-heart unit with the Mississippi State Department of Health. When JARMC officials protested, the state health department ordered both parties to present their cases in a public hearing held in Jackson. Afterward, a hearing officer recommended the certificate's approval and in late July the certificate was granted.
Anderson then appealed the decision to the Chancery Court in Hinds County, which resulted in Tuesday's finding in favor of Rush.
JARMC officials now have 30 days to exercise an option to present the case to the Mississippi Supreme Court.
J.W. Jones, JARMC's first vice president, said this morning he has not received a copy of the court order from Hinds County, but that "this is simply another step in the appeal process."
Previously Jones had said JARMC would use "all reasonable legal options made available" in order to stop Rush from opening its own heart unit.
Sharon White is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at swhite@meridianstar.com.

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