Huntsville Hospital asks state health planners to reconsider Crestwood angioplasty vote

Crestwood Medical Center.jpgCrestwood Medical Center in Huntsville has safely performed more than 700 angioplasty procedures since 2003 as part of a nationwide research trial sponsored by Johns Hopkins University.

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Huntsville Hospital is asking the state Certificate of Need Review Board to reconsider its vote allowing Crestwood Medical Center to establish a permanent elective angioplasty program.

In seeking a new hearing, CEO David Spillers said Huntsville Hospital is not trying to stop Crestwood from offering the procedure. Rather, it is trying to make sure Crestwood follows updated American College of Cardiology angioplasty guidelines for hospitals without open-heart surgery.

“We’re asking them to reconsider the criteria by which Crestwood would perform the procedure, which is different than, ‘Should they perform it?’” Spillers said Friday.

Crestwood CEO Dr. Pam Hudson called the motion, filed May 15, “another deliberate attempt to create delay and distraction.”

“Our community has and deserves two quality angioplasty programs,” Hudson said Friday.

Crestwood has safely performed more than 700 angioplasty procedures since 2003 as part of a nationwide research trial sponsored by Johns Hopkins University, but it needed the blessing of state medical planners to continue the program once the study ends.

The CON Review Board granted that approval at its April 18 meeting in Montgomery. It placed several conditions on Crestwood’s license, however, including informing patients that they may have to be transported to another hospital for heart surgery if the procedure goes badly.

In its motion for a rehearing, Huntsville Hospital says Crestwood’s attorney “argued against any (American College of Cardiology) Guideline criteria being included in the Crestwood CON decision.”

During a meeting of the Statewide Health Coordinating Council two days later, the same lawyer, Colin Luke, supported adoption of a section of the guidelines for hospitals without on-site cardiac surgery.

“The position presented by Counsel for Crestwood is inconsistent with the (CON Review Board) Decision in this matter and justifies reconsideration,” wrote Huntsville Hospital attorney Joe Campbell.

Luke called the motion a “ridiculous delay” and noted that Crestwood’s application won unanimous support from the board’s seven voting members.

“It’s not a substantive issue,” he said Friday. “Huntsville Hospital ought to be embarrassed by this motion and ought to be spending their resources helping promote healthcare and choice in the community.”

Luke said the motion may be discussed at the review board’s next meeting June 20. In the meantime, Crestwood will be allowed to continue performing nonemergency angioplasty.

Angioplasty, or percutaneous coronary intervention, involves inflating a small balloon catheter to open a clogged coronary artery. A stent is typically left behind to hold the artery open so blood can flow normally.

A state-appointed administrative law judge who heard three days of testimony from both hospitals in January recommended that Crestwood be allowed to establish a permanent program.

The judge, Al Agricola, said Crestwood provided “clear and convincing scientific evidence” that angioplasty can be safely performed at hospitals without open-heart surgery backup and found that it would be “problematic” for a city Huntsville’s size to have a single program.

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