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Atlanta’s Piedmont system landing new hospital

Just two days after WellStar announced plans to add another hospital, a second metro Atlanta health system says it’s making a similar deal.

Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare said Thursday that it plans to bring Newton Medical Center in Covington into its group of hospitals.

Newton Medical Center

Newton Medical Center

The deal will involve a long-term lease of assets from the Newton County Hospital Authority, and when the agreement takes effect, Newton Medical will become a subsidiary of Piedmont, officials said.

The announcement follows Tuesday’s news that Marietta-based WellStar Health System aims to take West Georgia Health in LaGrange into its fold. West Georgia Medical Center would become the sixth hospital in the nonprofit WellStar system, though it’s the first one not in Atlanta’s suburbs.

The moves continue the rapid consolidation among hospitals in Georgia and nationally, as they face dramatic changes in the way they’re paid for services. Part of that stems from provisions in the Affordable Care Act.  full story

WellStar expanding reach in LaGrange hospital deal

Marietta-based WellStar is planning to add another hospital system to its fold, one that’s outside its current geographical sweet spot.

West Georgia Health in LaGrange announced Tuesday that it has signed a letter of intent to join WellStar Health System, which dominates the northwest Atlanta suburbs.

West Georgia Health in LaGrange

West Georgia Health in LaGrange

The CEO of West Georgia, Jerry Fulks, cited the changes rampant in health care payments — many of which were ignited by the Affordable Care Act — for his system’s yearlong pursuit of a partner.

West Georgia Medical Center would become the sixth hospital in the nonprofit WellStar system, though it’s the first one that’s not in Atlanta’s suburbs.

Meanwhile, WellStar is still working on a potential blockbuster merger with Emory Healthcare in metro Atlanta.

Fulks said Tuesday that West Georgia Health, the parent of the medical center, was seeking a partner with at least $1 billion in revenues, which WellStar surpasses. “We wanted an organization that’s focused on physicians and employees,’’ Fulks added.   full story

Patient safety scores for hospitals get an update

One in four Georgia hospitals received an “A’’ grade in patient safety from the nonprofit Leapfrog Group, the same percentage as six months ago.

Two hospitals in the state got an “F’’ grade under Leapfrog’s “Hospital Safety Score,” updated from the fall.


Leapfrog, which was founded by employers, said last week that nationally, hospitals have made significant improvements on several surgical safety processes, as well as in implementing computerized medication prescribing systems.

But the hospitals’ performance on safety outcomes — including preventing errors, accidents and infections — has not significantly improved, Leapfrog said.

Scoring an “A” grade were 19 hospitals across Georgia, from metro Atlanta to Augusta to Savannah to Rome, where both hospitals earned the top mark. Also earning an “A’’ – for the second time in a row – were 69-bed Gordon Hospital in Calhoun in northwest Georgia and Colquitt Regional Medical Center, a 99-bed hospital in Moultrie in southwest Georgia.

Getting a failing grade were Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia in southeast Georgia and Union General Hospital in Blairsville in the Blue Ridge Mountains. full story

Macon hospital to pay $20 million in billing case

A Macon hospital has agreed to pay $20 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by overcharging Medicare on patient admissions.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Georgia said that from 2004 to 2008, the Medical Center of Central Georgia billed Medicare for inpatient services when the billing should have been for less costly outpatient or observation services.


The Macon facility, with about 630 beds, is the second-largest hospital in Georgia. It’s now known as Medical Center, Navicent Health.

“We agreed to settle to avoid costly litigation,’’ Judy Ware, chief compliance officer with Navicent Health, said Monday. full story

Grady settles with state in overbilling case

Grady Health System has agreed to pay $2.95 million to settle charges that it improperly billed Medicaid for treatment to neonatal intensive care (NICU) patients, the Georgia attorney general announced Thursday.

Sam Olens

Sam Olens

The state of Georgia alleged that Grady inflated billings for certain services provided to these NICU patients, resulting in either unjustified or inflated payments from Medicaid.

“This settlement demonstrates our office’s continued commitment to protecting crucial Medicaid dollars from fraud and abuse,” said Attorney General Sam Olens in a statement. “The health of NICU patients is fragile, and we must ensure that every Medicaid dollar is properly spent on their care.”

A spokeswoman for Olens said the Grady billing problem occurred from March 2008 to November 2012. Lauren Kane, the spokeswoman, told GHN in an email that “no single individual’’ at Grady was responsible for the overbilling. full story

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