Sharon Regional patient to undergo surgery after all | News

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Grove City resident Chris Cline said he got an unexpected phone call on Wednesday from Sharon Regional Medical Center.

Cline said hospital officials offered to perform his bariatric surgery – scheduled for March 4, but canceled less than 24 hours before the procedure – as soon as possible.

In a story published Wednesday in The Herald, Cline said Sharon Regional canceled the surgery was canceled, telling him it didn’t have surgical supplies for the procedure.

Cline said he didn’t blame Sharon Regional. Rather, it was the hospital’s owner – Steward Health Care. He said he believes Sharon Regional canceled his surgery because vendors are withholding surgical supplies as a consequence of Steward’s financial woes.

He did levy one complaint at Sharon Regional: After cancelling his surgery, the healthcare provider didn’t help him find another hospital that could perform it.

Cline accepted Sharon Regional’s offer, and and the surgery is set for April 2.

But Cline said he’s keeping a backup in play.

“I’m still keeping an appointment with an Erie doctor in case something happens,’’ he said.

There was one question on his mind.

“Is it a coincidence that they got the supplies just now, or were they motivated by (The Herald) article?’’ Cline asked.

Sharon Regional said providing quality care is its top priority but declined to comment on his situation, citing privacy laws, better known as HIPAA, that restricts healthcare providers from releasing patients’ medical information.

However, Cline said he waived those rights and gave permission for Sharon Regional to talk with The Herald about his case.

Cline, 41, has suffered from being chronically overweight and saw bariatric surgery at Sharon Regional as his final shot at living a healthier life. He said he had to undergo months of medical tests and psychological examinations for the surgery.

He’s required to be on a two-week liquid diet before the surgery.

Sharon Regional representatives did not answer questions about whether the hospital has had to cancel services because of Steward’s financial issues.

Dallas-based Steward is a for-profit healthcare company that owns 33 hospitals in nine states, including Sharon Regional and Trumbull Regional Medical Center in Warren, Ohio. It bought both local hospital systems in 2017. The parent company is facing financial difficulties.

Medical Properties Trust Inc. reported in January that Steward owed it $50 million in unpaid rent. MPT is a real estate investment trust based in Birmingham, Ala., that owns many of Steward’s buildings.

In February, Steward outlined a $150 million financing agreement, asset sales and a partial restructuring that will allow the system “to emerge as a sustainable business.”

Pennsylvania isn’t Steward’s only hot spot.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said last week it has placed monitoring staff at all nine of Steward’s medical facilities in the state. The Eagle-Tribune, a CNHI newspaper in North Andover, Mass., reported Saturday that no other medical group in the state faces such scrutiny.


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