Hearings to discuss medical additions

Published 4:14 pm Thursday, March 22, 2007

By Staff
State agency reviews need for equipment
Staff Writer
Two public hearings scheduled for April 17 at Beaufort County Community College will give area residents the opportunity to comment on a possible influx of new medical technology to Washington and Greenville.
The hearings are being held by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to discuss two Certificate of Need applications that total just over $5.7 million.
Public hearings to discuss both applications will be held April 17 at 1 p.m. at the Beaufort County Community College building-eight auditorium.
East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine filed an application for a CON to acquire a Cyber Knife linear accelerator.
The school said in a press release that the $5.3-million CyberKnife will replace an earlier model linear accelerator, called a GammaKnife, at the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center in Greenville. The center is an adult treatment facility that offers oncology, surgical oncology, chemotherapy, radiation therapies and gynecologic oncology.
GammaKnife and MRI — magnetic resonance imaging — services at the center are managed in cooperation with Pitt County Memorial Hospital, according to the release. The center has a close relationship with the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center at Beaufort County Hospital, according to Jennie Crews, the Shepard Center’s director of oncology.
The CyberKnife is a robotic radio-surgery system used to treat cancer lesions in the brain that are too large or inaccessible for the GammaKnife, and tumors in the lungs, liver, pancreas, prostate, kidney, adrenal gland and spine.
Eastern Radiologists, Inc. and Easternrad, LLC have filed a joint application to establish a diagnostic center in Washington.
Eastern Radiologists wants to purchase $441,000 in digital mammography equipment to replace existing analog models at its Washington office.
The digital machines have been used in Greenville since 2004, he said. Now that physicians have become comfortable with their use, the group’s Washington office is seeking the upgrade.
North Carolina law prohibits health care providers from acquiring, replacing or adding to their facilities and equipment, except in specified circumstances, without the prior approval of the Department of Health and Human Services, according to the N.C. Division of Facility Services Web site. The fundamental premise of the CON Law is that increasing health care costs may be controlled by governmental restrictions on the unnecessary duplication of medical facilities, the site said.
Anyone interested may file written comments concerning either application. Comments must be received by April 2 at the following address: Certificate of Need Section, Division of Facility Services 2704 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC, 27699-2704.