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Hospital prepares for heart program

A pending legislative act would allow Citrus Memorial to issue 30-year bonds to pay for the program, now being challenged.

By JIM ROSS

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 12, 2001


An appeal is pending, so Citrus Memorial Hospital can't move full-steam ahead on its planned heart surgery program. Still, the facility's leaders are quietly handling behind-the-scenes work while they await a formal green light.

One task involves the hospital's ability to issue revenue bonds -- a move that probably will be necessary to pay for facility expansion and the purchase of equipment.

As it stands, the Citrus County Hospital Board may issue 20-year bonds. A special legislative act now pending would extend the potential term to 30 years. Experts have advised hospital officials that the change is prudent and would provide more financial options as Citrus Memorial finds the $11-million needed to house, equip and start the heart program.

The Legislature created the board in 1989, when Citrus Memorial was transformed from public to private, not-for-profit status. The board is made up of citizens whom the governor appoints, and it levies an annual tax on property owners, with revenues going to the hospital for support of indigent care and capital improvements.

The Legislature will consider revising the hospital act during its upcoming term, which begins next month. The proposed revision also would, among other things, decrease board officers' terms from two years to one year. This change is designed to give board members more opportunities to serve as officers during their four-year stays.

The state Agency for Health Care Administration last year granted Citrus Memorial approval to start a heart surgery program. The approval has been challenged, but the hospital hopes to have it cleared by summer.

In other medical news:

Assisted living facility hires management company: The Cedar Creek assisted living facility, slated to open in June, has hired New Century Care, a company known for managing long-term care homes.

According to a Cedar Creek news release, New Century has advised Cornell University as it developed a new care continuum for New York Hospital and has partnered with Duke University in studying aging.

"With NCC's track record of successfully turning around old facilities and launching new ones, we're confident history will repeat itself at Cedar Creek," said the home's president, Bruce Mott, in prepared remarks. Cedar Creek is being built on the east side of U.S. 19 near Crystal River City Hall.

Veterans survey planned: The Department of Veterans Affairs will conduct a national telephone survey of veterans starting this month and ending in August.

The interviewers work for Westat Inc., a Veterans Affairs contractor. They will ask veterans about their health, disabilities, military background and education. The callers also will ask veterans about their needs in medical care, housing and education assistance.

Participation is voluntary. Information will be confidential, pursuant to the federal Privacy Act.

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