Metro Cancels Project

April 24, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — It looks like Metro Health will be able to focus more of its attention on its new Metro Health Village in southern Wyoming, now that another building project has fallen through. The health system has withdrawn its plans to build a $6.3 million, four-operating room ambulatory surgical center in Comstock Park. According to spokesperson Jason Manshum, Metro was forced to cancel the project because of a revision in state regulations.

“Metro Health has withdrawn its proposal to build a surgery center in ComstockPark because in the middle of our certificate of need (application) being considered, the state’s standards for approval changed,” Manshum wrote in an e-mail.

Metro initially expressed its desire to build the surgical facility in October 2005. It made its initial application to the Michigan Department of Community Health in November 2005. In order for the application to be approved, Metro would have to demonstrate that its doctors handled enough surgical cases to merit the addition of four operating rooms to the West Michigan health care market. At the time of its application, Metro believed it had an appropriate case volume to justify the expansion.

But at the beginning of this year, the state changed the standards by which those surgical cases are counted. Under the new system, only surgical cases handled in a licensed operating room could be counted. Those done in outpatient settings or doctors’ offices would no longer count toward the mandatory volume requirement. With the change, Metro could no longer provide the necessary documentation to prove its need.

Lody Zwarensteyn, president of the local health care watchdog group Alliance for Health, said that Metro’s application was “fatally flawed” from the beginning. Among other problems, Zwarensteyn said that Metro couldn’t take surgical cases away from its other facilities in order to prove a need for the new surgical center. But at the same time, Metro needs to do as many high-revenue surgical procedures as possible. That kind of activity will be vitally important in paying for the expansion and the construction of the new hospital.

Manshum said that Metro may reconsider the ComstockPark facility at a later date.    

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