Littleton Hospital Disputes State Ruling That New Urgent Care Center Won't Have Adverse Effects
A Grafton Superior Court judge says he'll rule later on an injunction filed by Littleton Regional Healthcare related to the opening of an urgent care facility in the town.
Littleton Regional filed the injunction in October against the Department of Health and Human Services, after the commissioner determined that there would be no adverse effect on the hospital if a ConvenientMD clinic opened less than 3 miles away.
As a federally designated critical access hospital, Littleton Regional says it would lose about $3.2 million dollars a year in revenue with the opening of ConvenientMD, and that would affect its obstetrics and behavioral health departments.
“We have to start looking at the services we provide, and if any of those services do in fact lose a lot of money we can’t continue to subsidize those at the rates we are. So we’ve really got a pickle to figure out there,” said Littleton’s CEO and President Bob Nutter.
LRH opened its own urgent care center earlier this summer.
“They’re not trying to prevent a competitor in coming to town. They’re focused on conserving access to the full panoply of health services offered by Littleton Regional Healthcare,” said Jason Gregoire, representing LRH.
On Tuesday, the night before the hearing, DHHS Commissioner Jeff Meyers issued a second determination, which reached the same conclusion that there wouldn’t be an adverse effect of ConvenientMD opening.
In the six-page order, Meyers said that the information provided by LRH and Ammonoosuc Community Health Services in their objections to the Commissioner’s determination is "conjecture and attenuated at best.”
Meyers also argues that DHHS has licensed other urgent care centers within a 15 mile radius of critical access hospitals, “and there is not data establishing that any of these centers have adversely affected the essential health services of the service area.”
The state argued that Littleton Regional should have used a different process to seek relief, as laid out in state statute, and that LRH did not meet the state’s requirement for an injunction.
“They would need to show it wouldn’t simply hurt their business, but destroy their business, close their business,” said Dan Deschenes, who represents ConvenientMD.
ConvenientMD opened Wednesday in Littleton.