Christina Johnson

On behalf of Jupiter Medical Center, we believe that important factors were not included in the most recent Palm Beach Post editorial about the Tenet hospital on the Scripps campus (“Give the public its payoff.”) We believe the public should consider these factors when evaluating the value of the project.

First, Tenet official Marsha Powers stated at an Aug. 9 news conference that the hospital would “be completely different from the two other (Tenet) hospitals that sit within a 5-mile radius.” Yet the Oct. 12 hospital application reveals that the proposal is not for an academic teaching or research hospital, but will provide only “routine medical/surgical services to residents of the immediate area.” This hospital simply would be an unnecessary duplication of existing services.

Why should this matter to you? Unlike free-market businesses, hospitals are greatly regulated. When a corporation like Tenet, which controls 60 percent of the hospital market in northern Palm Beach County, is allowed to expand even further, you don’t get more competition; you get a monopoly. Without competition, Tenet could demand higher rates with managed-care companies, driving up the cost of your health care.

Not only would costs rise but you would have fewer services. The new Tenet hospital would not offer vital services offered by Jupiter Medical Center, such as obstetrics, diabetes education and wound care. JMC also offers a vast array of free services, such as cancer screenings, preventive health care education and charity care. These potential losses are costs that must be considered.

Second, if Scripps partners with Tenet, it will be less likely to maintain vital research partnerships. Currently, Scripps is working with both for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals like Jupiter Medical Center. We believe it is in the best interest of the region to increase and expand these opportunities. These partnerships are beneficial to Scripps and other area hospitals.

Furthermore, by using existing facilities, lifesaving research can start now, not in the five or more years it would take to build a new facility. Most biomedical research institutes in Florida do not have their own hospitals. Instead, they collaborate with existing facilities. It is an excellent model that Scripps could use.

Third, the promised economic benefits are overstated. According to Tenet’s own numbers, there is not enough growth to support an entire new hospital. That means jobs created would be as a result of jobs lost from other hospitals and supporting local businesses.

Supporters of the new hospital would have you believe that the only way to conduct translational research and academic medical teaching is to create a hospital on the Scripps campus. This is simply not true.

Like other world-class biomedical research facilities, including the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Torrey Pines Institute Florida and Max Planck Florida Institute, we know that Scripps could accomplish research and educational goals using existing resources. Best of all, the advancements would be done in such a way as not to harm hospitals providing health, educational and economic benefits to our region.

When taxpayers were asked to invest in Scripps Florida, they were told that the institute would be an inclusive hub that would attract innovative industries while complementing and fostering growth for existing institutions. Allowing Tenet to build a for-profit hospital on your tax-funded property would not be in keeping with the promise made to us.

We must ensure that our community receives the best return on its Scripps investment without hurting our region’s existing health care facilities and job creators. Jupiter Medical Center stands ready to partner with Scripps and our other 12 regional hospitals to find a solution that is truly a win-win.

Joseph Taddeo is chairman of the Jupiter Medical Center Board of Trustees.

November 22, 2011

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