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University Archives and History

Greensboro Hospital and new health business

About the controversy

ImageIn 1971 and 1972, Greensboro-area physicians initiated a study of the three hospitals in Greensboro and their capacity to serve the demand for hospital care in the city and county. Some local physicians reached out to Extendicare, Inc., a for-profit company that had started building nursing homes in 1961. Extendicare, Inc. submitted an application for certificate of need for construction of a health facility in Greensboro, N.C. on February 16, 1972. The proposal included plans for building a hospital that would offer 200 beds: six coronary care beds, six intensive care beds, and 188 acute cure (medical-surgical) beds. This report included statistical justification based on census data, Hill-Burton ratios, and presumed population growth models. The planned hospital would employ an estimated 320 full-time workers at 80% occupancy. According to a survey performed by Extendicare, Inc., local physicians generally showed support for the new facility. At initial hearing for the application for certification of need, physicians voted in favor of the new hospital idea.  

 

After a series of hearings and community questioning sessions, the regional Comprehensive Health Planning Council denied the application on September 25, 1972, citing no immediate need for additional beds in the community. In January 1973, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina’s law requiring a “certificate of need” was unconstitutional. With this barrier removed, Extendicare, Inc. bought land for the site of the new hospital. At the same time, changes in the Social Security Act required a different set of requirements to be met by health facilities wishing to receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. The State Office of Comprehensive Health Planning reviewed the request to build and denied the 200-bed plan, but approved a modified 100-bed plan in August 1974.  

 

Extendicare, Inc., rebranded as Humana. This rebranding reflected the company’s move away from assisted living homes and into for-profit hospitals exclusively.

 

Construction began in December of 1975.  In June, the name for the hospital was changed to Greensboro Hospital, the name under which it would open on June 19th, 1977. As Dr. Phillips describes, “For-profit Humana offered privacy, pampering and wine with dinner, as well as many perks for the physicians.” In this time, Greensboro Hospital’s room costs were reportedly the most expensive in Greensboro, and among the highest in the state, ranking fifth out of 131 hospitals in North Carolina. (85)

 

Humana’s hospital expanded services and constructed new expansions quickly. In 1982, it sought to expand by 60 beds, but received approval for only half that beds. The hospital’s name changed to Humana Hospital-Greensboro at the time of an expansion this expansion (at a cost of $7.9 million).  After an already turbulent beginning, true friction erupted in the medical community at the construction of two MedFirst clinics, “offering extended office hours and treatment of patients with minor emergencies and without appointments.” Several members of the medical community resigned from Greensboro Hospital’s board in protest, and Humana lost significant occupancy as doctors did not refer patients to Humana after this point. At one point, occupancy was so low that the hospital temporarily closed the upper floor.

 

On June 1, 1988, Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital purchased the facility and, after much renovation, the hospital reopened as the Women’s Hospital of Greensboro in 1989. At the time of opening, it was the only hospital dedicated to women’s health in the state.

 

Read an account of these events by Dr. Robert L. Phillips in History of Hospitals in Greensboro, North Carolina: Including Sanitariums, Infirmaries, and Institutes, pages 79-94.

 

Navigating the materials for research

The application and construction process
These items pertain to the application of Extendicare, Inc. for a certificate of need and the initial plans for hospital construction.

 

Greensboro Hospital operations
These items refer to the general operations of Greensboro Hospital.

 

Events leading to the Cone Health purchase and the transition to Women's Hospital
These are documents relate to the struggles of Greensboro’s three major hospitals—Greensboro Hospital, Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, and Wesley Long Community Hospital—in the wake of negative sentiment within the medical community.

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Works cited

Phillips, R. L. (2001). History of the hospitals in Greensboro, North Carolina : including sanitariums, infirmaries and institutes. The Printworks, Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital Collection, Cone Health Medical Library. http://libcdm1.uncg.edu/cdm/ref/collection/GoodMed/id/1104

 

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