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Rush prevails in Supreme Court appeal over second cardiac unit

By By Suzanne Monk/The Meridian Star
Nov. 1, 2001
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Rush Foundation Hospital can operate an open-heart unit in Meridian.
The issue has been in dispute since June 1999, when Rush officials applied to the Mississippi Department of Health for a certificate of need to open the unit. The CON was granted in July 2000.
At the time, Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center operated the only heart unit in Meridian. Administrators there spent more than two years appealing the decision, claiming that a second heart unit would duplicate services already provided by JARMC.
In the meantime, Rush officials began construction of their facility. It opened without fanfare in mid-July of this year.
In their appeal, JARMC claimed the method used by Mississippi Department of Health officials to determine how many potential patients exist in East Mississippi and West Alabama essentially "double-counted" a significant number of people. State law requires a population base of at least 100,000 to demonstrate the need for a cardiac unit.
JARMC attorneys also argued that the unit would not be cost-effective.
The nine-member high court rejected these arguments 6-0, with three justices not participating.
Wallace Strickland, president and chief executive officer of Rush Health Systems, said today that he was pleased by the state Supreme Court decision.
Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center officials said the facility "continue to serve East Mississippi and West Alabama with the best heart surgery program in the area, as it has for the past 15 years. "
Suzanne Monk is managing editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3229, or e-mail her at smonk@themeridianstar.com.
Here's a look at the sequence of events leading to Wednesday's decision by the Mississippi Supreme Court in favor of Rush Foundation Hospital.
June 1999 Rush applied to Mississippi Department of Health for a certificate of need (CON) to open a cardiac unit in Meridian. At the time, Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center operated the only heart unit.
April 2000 Public hearings held in Jackson.
July 2000 CON granted. JARMC appealed the decision shortly afterward to Hinds County Chancery Court.
November 2000 Hinds County Chancellor Stuart Robinson affirmed the Health Department's decision to award CON to Rush.
December 2000 JARMC appealed chancellor's decision to Mississippi Supreme Court.
July 2001 Rush opened cardiac unit.
September 2001 Attorneys for Rush and JARMC presented oral arguments before the high court.
October 2001 Supreme Court affirmed decision to award CON to Rush.

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