Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, has forged an affiliation agreement with Cookeville (Tenn.) Regional Medical Center that they say will expand healthcare services in the mid-state region. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed in a news release. The deal represents Vanderbilt’s fourth regional affiliation agreement, a Vanderbilt spokesman said. The agreement allows the two medical centers to collaborate on developing Joint Centers of Excellence, educational programs, research projects and information technology tools, according to the release. They also will work together to expand highly specialized services such as trauma care, neurology, neuro-intervention and neonatology. Ownership and management of 217-bed Cookeville Regional will remain the same. “Because of uncertainties in today’s healthcare environment, more and more independent hospitals are exploring options to join with others,” Dr. Menachem Langer, Cookeville Regional’s CEO, said in the release. “With healthcare reform, it is imperative that we take steps to secure our position so that we may continue our mission to provide high-quality healthcare now and into the future.” Cookeville Regional received approval last month from the Cookeville city council to acquire Cumberland River Hospital in Celina, Tenn. Vanderbilt previously reached affiliation agreements in Tennessee with 206-bed Maury Regional Medical Center, Columbia; 72-bed NorthCrest Medical Center, Springfield; and 185-bed Williamson Medical Center, Franklin. HOUSTON—
Dr. Jack L. Baker, a radiologist who owned an imaging center in the Houston area, has agreed to pay $650,000 and be voluntarily suspended from Medicare and Medicaid for six years to settle allegations that he maintained illegal kickback arrangements that based compensation on the volume of referrals from numerous physicians. Baker did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement and could not be reached for comment. Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Houston accused Baker, who owned and operated an imaging center, Fairmont Diagnostic Center and Open MRI, of performing imaging studies for patients of as many as 17 physicians who were compensated in ways that violated federal anti-fraud laws, according to the settlement agreement. Baker sold the assets of the business to another physician in June 2011, the settlement noted. Prosecutors also alleged that Baker provided sham medical directorship jobs to doctors and contracts to pay the physicians’ office staff salaries that took into account the value of the referrals that the doctors provided to Baker’s imaging center. The case against Baker and Fairmont Diagnostic started in 2010 as a whistle-blower lawsuit from Dr. Philip Blum and Dr. David Spinks—physicians who referred patients to imaging centers such as Fairmont. The doctors will share in 20% of the settlement, or $130,000. ARLINGTON, Va.—
Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, has signed a three-year agreement to manage the neonatal intensive-care unit at Virginia Hospital Center, Arlington. Staff from 283-bed Children’s National will manage direct patient care, medical records management and compliance with pediatric-care standards, among other tasks, at Virginia Hospital’s NICU, according to a news release. Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed. Dr. Billie Lou Short, division chief of neonatology at Children’s National, will be the medical director of Virginia Hospital’s NICU. “The direction and oversight that Children’s National will provide adds even greater depth to the outstanding neonatology program that the Arlington Neonatology Group established over 10 years ago,” Dr. Jeffrey DiLisi, vice president and chief medical officer at 342-bed Virginia Hospital, said in the release. Approximately 10% of infants born at Virginia Hospital require NICU care.
An agreement between Vanderbilt and Cookeville allows the two centers to collaborate on research projects and educational programs.