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Norton to Offer Expanded Services for Women and Children at Renovated Suburban Hospital

As questions arise over the future of reproductive health services in Louisville, Norton Healthcare announced today it will reconfigure Norton Suburban Hospital into a facility for women and children.

“We see it as our responsibility to provide specialized care in areas such as cardiac care, orthopedic care, breast health, oncology, prevention and wellness, and this is certainly going above beyond the more traditional obstetrics and gynecological care that you would expect in a women’s hospital,” says Norton spokesman Thomas Johnson.

The availability of reproductive health services has been at the center of the pending merger of University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital and a division of Catholic Health Initiatives. After the merger, certain procedures involving birth control, abortion and end-of-life care will not be allowed in University Hospital. The U of L School of Medicine will not be part of the merger, and officials insist all existing services will be offered somewhere through U of L after the merger. Click here to read WFPL’s coverage of the merger.

Johnson says the renovations to Norton Suburban have been planned for years and are not a reaction to the merger. Rather, he says it’s part of an effort to provide better services for women.

“Once you put all of the care for women in one location and allow for better interaction among the doctors and the medical records, the outcome for women’s care is so much greater,” he says.

The renovations will include expanded services from Kosair Children’s Hospital. Changes will be evident at the beginning of next year, and Johnson says everything should be complete in 2013. The renovations will cost an estimated $120 million.

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Local News

Downtown Cancer Center to Open Next Week

Officials have cut the ribbon on a new cancer treatment facility in downtown Louisville.

The Norton Cancer Center at Floyd and Broadway has been under construction since January 2010. It will open next week and is capable of providing aggressive radiation treatments on adults and children. The center will undoubtedly see a large number of patients, given the area’s generally poor health.

“Each year some 24,000 Kentuckians are diagnosed with cancer. That’s about 66 each day,” Norton President Steve Williams. “Nearly 10,000 people die from this disease. Kentucky ranks 49th out of 50 states with its current rate of adult smokers, meaning our cancer rate and mortality will continue to be a real challenge.”

The three-story center cost $26.4 million. Two more floors can be added in the future as treatment and research technology advances.

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Local News

Medical Care Center To Open In Arena

A new medical facility will open in Louisville’s downtown arena next week.

The KFC Yum Center officially opens Sunday, and on Monday, Norton Healthcare’s immediate care center inside the building will begin operations. Director of immediate care centers Anna Newkirk says it will keep regular daily hours and will be accessible, even during arena events.

“Patients can take a bus, walk or come with a car just a few blocks,” she says. “There are lots of parking garages around us. Our patients will have some dedicated spaces in the garage under the arena.”

Newkirk says the center will not necessarily be open during all arena events, but Norton will run the arena’s first aid stations.

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Local News

MS Center Partners With Norton, Will Relocate

The Multiple Sclerosis Center in Louisville is moving.

The center has partnered with the Norton Neuroscience Institute and will be moved to Norton’s Suburban Medical Plaza.

The center will move next month. Next week, MS specialist Dr. Robert Tillett Jr. will join the center’s staff. Tillett says he will be part of an effort to make the new partnership one of the top MS treatment centers in the nation.

“They’re going to be hiring some additional personnel so that they will be able to take care of patients with multiple sclerosis from various aspects, from educational to psychological support to drug trials and then standard treatments,” he says.

Tillett says the growth will take several years.

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Local News

Norton Chosen For National Cancer Institute Program

The Norton Cancer Institute has been chosen by the National Cancer Institute to become a Community Cancer Center.

Norton Vice President of Research and Prevention Dr. Sandra Brooks says among other services, the Community Cancer Center Program will help Norton reach out to people who have generally not been able to access cancer screenings or treatments.

“Those individuals who have less than a high school education, those individuals who are racial or ethnic minorities, the elderly, those who live in rural populations, those who are uninsured,” she says. “The cancers that occur most commonly in the Commonwealth, there are proven methods of early detection and treatment. So our challenge is to reach into those populations and identify the people who do need screenings and navigate them through the process.”

Norton will receive a $1.6 million, two-year contract for the Community Cancer Center. Norton is the only site chosen in Kentucky for the program, and is one of 14 new sites added to the program with federal stimulus dollars. There are a total of 30 Community Cancer Centers in the country.

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Local News

No New Negotiations Set In Norton/Anthem Split

The impasse between Norton Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield continues, and both sides still refuse to meet. Anthem says it will only negotiate Norton’s request for higher reimbursement rates with a mediator, while Norton wants to meet directly with Anthem.

The contract between Norton and Anthem ended on Wednesday. Now all of Norton’s doctors and facilities except for Kosair Children’s Hospital are out of network to Anthem customers.

But Norton spokesperson Craig Menaugh says some Anthem customers can continue their care at Norton and not be subjected to extra fees.

“Maternity patients, chemotherapy patients, the type of people who were in an active course of treatment at the time the contract expired, they’ll be able to continue to receive that care from their Norton Healthcare doctor and Norton Healthcare facility,” he says.

Menaugh says no additional talks with Anthem have been scheduled. Calls to Anthem were not immediately returned.

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Local News

Norton/Anthem Disagree On Negotiation Methods

Norton Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield continue their path toward a split, even though both sides say they are ready to negotiate.

Norton is threatening to drop Anthem from its supported providers if the insurer does not agree to higher reimbursements. Anthem spokesperson Tony Felts says his company wants to bring in a third party to help negotiate an agreement.

“We’re continuing to stay in touch with Norton Healthcare officials, but it is our understanding that at this point they are not interested in entering into non-binding mediation,” he says.

Norton Associate Vice President of Managed Care Jim Meyers says Norton would rather work out its differences with Anthem directly.

“We’ve been willing to discuss and have conversations with them since we submitted the termination on December 27th,” says Meyers.

If an agreement isn’t reached by July 1st, Norton hospitals and doctors will no longer be part of the Anthem coverage network.

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Local News

Forum Today On Norton-Anthem Dispute

The impasse between Kentucky’s largest insurer and Louisville’s largest healthcare provider will get a public airing Monday.

Norton Healthcare is threatening to drop Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield from its supported insurers if the company doesn’t agree to higher reimbursements and other administrative changes.

The Louisville-Kentucky Business Coalition on Health will hold a forum on the issue for business leaders. Coalition president Paul Shaughnessy says higher rates for Anthem could likely mean higher rates for employers who use the insurer.

“Employers are kind of caught off guard that they might have to respond to this,” he says. “What actions might they have to take. So I think for the first time employers are really looking at this saying, ‘Where is our voice?'”

Only a spokesperson for Anthem will speak at the forum. A Norton representative says the company would rather work on renegotiating its contract with Anthem than make presentations at public forums.

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Six Degrees of Health Insurance

If you heard my feature on health care costs, you heard a reference to heart catheterization teams being on call. The line turned out to have extra meaning today, making all those attempts to properly pronounce it in the recording booth worthwhile.

At a press conference about emergency care this morning, I learned that Louisville EMS teams now have the ability to transmit EKGs to hospitals where heart catheterization teams will be on call and ready to treat patients based on their EKGs.

When I got back to the newsroom, I called Norton Healthcare to find out about their potential split with Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Both entities were quoted in my health care feature, and now they’re at odds over, among other things, reimbursements for care.

This could be medical news serendipity or a reinforcement of not only the need for a 24-hour heart catheterization lab, but the necessity of funds, public or private, to pay for it.

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Local News

Norton, Anthem At Odds Over Contract

Kentucky’s largest insurer and Louisville’s largest health care provider may be headed for a split.

Norton Healthcare is threatening to drop Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield from its supported insurers if the company doesn’t agree to higher reimbursements and other administrative changes.

Anthem spokesperson Tony Felts says this is not the time to increase health care costs.

“Norton is requesting a reimbursement increase of 20% or more precisely at a time when our employer accounts and anthem customers are struggling in the current economic downturn,” he says.

Norton Associate Vice President of Managed Care Jim Meyers says the extra fees are necessary to provide care, and Norton doesn’t want to drop Anthem.

“Our intent is to get a new contract,” he says. “But if it leads to that then I guess that’s the way it ends up, but that’s not our goal.”

If Anthem is dropped, its customers would face out of network charges for Norton hospitals and doctors. Felts says the insurer will make exceptions for Kosair Children’s Hospital.