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03.13.2017 Legal News

North Carolina CON Activity and Opportunity Report

February 2017 was a busy month for Certificate of Need (CON) in North Carolina, and opportunities will continue to extend across the calendar year and into 2018.

OR/Surgery Center Activity

In February, new surgery centers were proposed in Burke, Davie and Forsyth Counties. The 2017 State Plan also identifies operating room need determinations in Moore, New Hanover and Union Counties. Looking forward, many are watching to see what will follow on the heels of the work of the Operating Room Methodology Workgroup; some observers are suggesting that a new methodology could result in the identification of a sizable number of OR need determinations in numerous counties, potentially including Buncombe, Durham, Forsyth, Mecklenburg, Moore, New Hanover, Orange, Pitt and Wake.

Developments in Long-Term Care

CON activity in long-term care in 2017-18 is likely to continue the trend toward consolidation with proposals involving the acquisition and relocation of existing nursing home and assisted living beds. North Carolina‚Äôs CON Law exempts acquisitions of existing health care facilities from CON review. In various locations across the State, existing providers are marketing facilities for sale. While no new nursing homes are shown to be needed in 2017, consistent with prior year Plans, a smattering of assisted living beds are shown as needed in several rural North Carolina counties. In February, three North Carolina Continuing Care Retirement Community projects were submitted for CON review, one in Guilford County and two in Mecklenburg County. A number of long-term care projects are now under CON review, including various replacement/relocation proposals.    

Technology and Equipment and Bed Proposals

In March, the CON Section will conduct Public Hearings on a proposal to relocate linear accelerators to a new outpatient cancer center in Pitt County as well as on two proposals for new diagnostic centers in Wake County. A fixed PET scanner is shown to be needed in the Health Service Area that includes Wake County and surrounding Counties. New cardiac catheterization equipment is a need identified in Wake County. A new MRI scanner is identified as a need in Lincoln County and in Mecklenburg County. In 2017, acute care bed applications are also anticipated in Mecklenburg County, as well as in Durham and Orange counties.

Home Health and Hospice Developments

Multiple applicants are expected to come forward with proposals directed at the 2017 Mecklenburg County need determination for a new home health agency. Earlier this year, the CON Section issued exemptions for the acquisition of the Columbus County Home Health Agency and the Harnett County Home Health Agency. In Cumberland County, the 2017 Plan identifies the need for a new hospice home office as well as new hospice inpatient beds. Across the State, various needs are identified for psychiatric beds and chemical dependency treatment beds with certain beds earmarked for adults and others for children/adolescents.    

Planning Year Kick-Off

The State Health Coordinating Council kicked off the 2018 planning year in its March 1 meeting.  Martha Frisone conducted an informational session on anticipated changes to the CON Rules in a March 1 afternoon meeting. Meetings of the Acute Care Services Committee, the Long Term Care and Behavioral Health Committee and the Technology and Equipment Committee will follow in April. As the planning year continues, Public Hearings on Petitions for special need determinations will be held throughout the month of July in various locations across the State.