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Letters: Northern Kentucky Needs Christ Hospital, Competition

The following letters to the editor were submitted to The River City News by Ft. Mitchell City Councilman Dennis Zahler and Campbell County Commissioner Charlie Coleman.

Fellow Community Leaders, I am asking you to not oppose the Christ Hospital CON Application. I have been an insurance agent for 37 years in Northern Kentucky offering medical plans to individuals and groups. While St. Elizabeth has been and is a great hospital, they have over the past years with the purchase of St. Luke and almost all the physician groups in Northern Kentucky created a monopoly on services and cost to health care. They say they embrace competition but every time another service provider has tried to offer services in Northern Kentucky they have opposed it, even to the extent of filing lawsuits.

Garren Colvin, CEO of St. Elizabeth, sent an email to every community leader in Northern Kentucky stating why we should oppose Christ Hospital’s application to provide medical services in Northern Kentucky. His points of opposition to Christ Hospital's move into Northern Kentucky are flawed to say the least. 

Here is my response to his opposition.

1) Christ Hospital adding competition for Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) will not increase cost of service. In fact it will keep costs in check by offering patients a choice of where to get service. Competition is always a good thing. I have seen over the years with St. Elizabeth the increased cost of services and limited access to other than their provider networks as being a major factor in the increased cost of health care in Northern Kentucky. Health insurance carriers attempting to negotiate cost of service contracts in Northern Kentucky have no bargaining power, as St. Elizabeth is it.

2) Colvin’s claim that there is no need for another surgery center is also flawed. While there may be nine facilities, most health care plans only cover services at a few and other than the hospital ASC centers, most are open only limited hours making the hospital ASC centers the only choice after hours (St. Elizabeth is the only choice).

3) Sure, St. Elizabeth wants to keep all the increased ASC utilization. Christ Hospital will have to serve all who go there regardless of having medical service just like St. Elizabeth now does. No one will be turned away.

4) Yes, many Ohio physicians have privileges to St. Elizabeth services. It is the only place for services in Northern Kentucky. All physicians should have a choice for where they offer services in Northern Kentucky.

5) I have spoken to several physicians who are part of St. Elizabeth Physicians and they say that they are always under pressure to see as many patients a day as possible, thus only giving them no more than an average of 10 minutes per patient. Also, waiting times to see physicians has increased because of large case loads.

6) If the cost of Christ Hospital is higher than St. Elizabeth, I say let them compete. If the cost remains higher they will either fail or have to lower their cost just like St. Elizabeth will have to do.

If St Elizabeth is supportive of competition, why is it opposed to competition in Northern Kentucky? Why have they filed suit against the issue of the Certificate of Need Application that Christ needs to open. I say it is because they currently monopolize most health care in Northern Kentucky and do not want this to change. 

We need choice, not monopoly. I urge all to contact their local government leaders to support the approval of the Certificate of Need for Christ Hospital to open in Northern Kentucky.

Dennis Zahler

Fort Mitchell, Ky.


As a lifetime resident of Northern Kentucky and an elected official, I wholeheartedly support the Certificate of Need (CON) application being pursued by The Christ Hospital Health Network and the outpatient medical center Christ Hospital has proposed in Fort Mitchell.

Competition among local health care providers will result in better outcomes, enhanced service, and improved access to outpatient surgery and other vital services that The Christ Hospital plans to provide in Northern Kentucky. It will also result in major investments, new jobs, and economic development for the entire region, including potentially in underserved communities of Campbell County

For too long the CON process has erected a barrier around Northern Kentucky that has kept out competition, improved health care services, and patient choice for our residents. The time has come to end the government-controlled health care monopoly in our state and our community.

Sincerely,

Charlie Coleman

County Commissioner

Campbell County Fiscal Court