Metro News

The closing in-patient care at Metro General Hospital at Meharry may mean if you need an overnight stay, patients will have to go elsewhere.

What most people don’t realize is the total number of hospital beds allowed in one area is limited by government regulations.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Council members, patients, staff in the dark about General Hospital plans | Mayor’s office under fire for proposal to close hospital

Hospitals can’t add more beds just because they want to do so.

Metro General’s bed licenses are potentially worth a lot of money to another hospital that wants to add beds.

Nashville pastors are pleading to save Metro General’s inpatient care.

“Mayor (Megan) Barry and the Council have a more and ethical responsibility to take care of the least of these,” said pastor Keith Caldwell.

That’s the people story, but there’s also a backstory.

If Metro General gives up its bed licenses, in theory, another hospital might be able to buy them. Metro General’s CEO Joseph Webb has heard the speculation and it concerns him.

“Any acquisition attempts other than what we are currently doing with those would be of concern,” said Webb.

One potential buyer mentioned in HCA.

Here’s how it could possibly work, according to one state official.

If HCA wanted to add 100 or so beds to a hospital in its service area and General has agreed to take its beds offline, that could happen in theory,” said Jim Christoffersen, a lawyer for the state agency that oversees those kinds of matters.

“I’m not exactly sure where they are going to go, or if HCA gets them, at this point,” said Barry. “That’s part of the conversation.”

One partnership involving HCA is already in the works. It was recently announced that Meharry Medical College will train its future doctors at TriStar Southern Hills, owned by HCA.

Why would another hospital buy bed licenses? It’s because the total numbers of beds allowed in one area is limited by state and federal officials.

It’s not illegal for money to change hands for hospital beds, according to the state lawyer News 4 interviewed.

What are the bed licenses worth?

“That’s one of the things we’ve been talking about,” said Barry.

A spokesman for HCA, when asked if the hospital chain wanted Metro General’s hospital beds, said the company was not interested.

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