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'Game on' at HCA's Spotsylvania hospital
Five years in the planning and two years in the making, Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center is now open

 HCA executive Margaret Lewis cuts the ribbon on the new Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center as, from left, state Sen. Edd Houck, company CEO Tim Tobin and hospital board chairman Dr. Henry Wicker celebrate.
PHOTOS BY Delayna Earley/FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 6/8/2010

BY JIM HALL

What happened yesterday at the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center was not exactly a grand opening--the hospital has been open for two weeks and has treated hundreds of patients.

Perhaps the ceremony was better described as a "celebration, a beginning," said one executive. Or perhaps, "game on," said another.

Either way, the event was public recognition of the arrival of the region's third acute-care hospital and Spotsylvania County's first.

The 126-bed facility is the newest in the HCA Inc. chain and the smallest of the 13 hospitals that it operates in Virginia. Interstate 95 is visible from its parking lots, just south of Massaponax.

Spotsylvania Regional represents a new kind of hospital company for the region, a for-profit operation that pays state and local taxes.

For 110 years, the nonprofit Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg and its younger sibling Stafford Hospital have been the area's only hospitals.

Five years in the making, Spotsylvania Regional arrived yesterday with speeches, ribbon-cutting, cherry tree planting and the release of a flock of white doves.

"It's been quite a ride," said Margaret Lewis, president of HCA's capital division.

The hospital's actual opening occurred May 24. New federal regulations require hospitals to admit 30 patients before Joint Commission inspection and certification as Medicare and Medicaid providers.

In the two weeks since then, patients have moved through its intensive care unit, cardiac cath lab, same-day surgery section and psychiatric unit.

The staff has delivered at least two babies, performed 11 surgeries, admitted 70 patients and treated more than 300 people in the emergency room.

"I'd say we've used virtually all of our services," said Tim Tobin, chief executive officer.

While yesterday's ceremony was taking place at the entrance, a surgeon was upstairs preparing for two scheduled operations, and a Bowling Green Rescue Squad ambulance was out back unloading a patient.

A man in the front row, however, by the speaker's podium, may have been the most important visitor.

Dr. Michael Norman had arrived unannounced about an hour before the start of the ceremony. He was from the Joint Commission, the Chicago-based organization that accredits the nation's hospitals.

Norman was there to see if the hospital is ready to be a federal provider. He's expected to be on site for about four days.

Hospital officials hope that by the time he departs, he'll approve of what he's seen. If so, the hospital will be completely open.

Jim Hall: 540/374-5433
Email: jhall@freelancestar.com


SPOTSY HOSPITAL STILL NOT AN ANTHEM PROVIDER
The Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center is now open, but the new hospital is not part of the Anthem insurance network.

The two sides continue to talk but have not signed a provider agreement. Hospital officials said yesterday that they have no idea when the impasse might end.

"We have a good relationship with Anthem, and I'm confident things will work out," said Margaret Lewis, an executive with HCA Inc., the hospital's parent company.

Added Scott Golden, Anthem spokesman, "We remain in discussions and are hopeful we can come to an agreement."

The deadlock means that Spotsylvania Regional is "out-of-network" for Anthem customers, who could face higher costs there, depending on their policies.

Tim Tobin, chief executive officer, said the hospital will work with patients to minimize the impact.

"We're making sure that the patient has no out-of-pocket penalty," Tobin said. "Their out-of-pocket expense would be similar to what it would be if they'd gone to an in-network hospital."

--Jim Hall