Yesterday, we wrote about a letter Dr. Jock Cobb sent to his patients about what he believed was his clinic's unceremonious ousting from the Sherwood building he rented from St. Vincent Health.
I asked spokesperson Margaret Dedman what St. Vincent's plans were for the building, whether the decision not to renew Cobb's lease was part of its $12 million budget cut and who would be the new Medical Director of St. Vincent North hospital. I didn't get answers to those questions, but did get this this morning:
Below is the St. Vincent statement in response to your inquiry yesterday. This statement is the only comment St. Vincent will make about this issue. Thanks,
Margaret Preston Dedman
We are disappointed by the letter sent by Dr. Cobb to his patients regarding his recent change in location. We would like to take this opportunity to clarify what has happened. We have already clarified the facts around this decision with the board members and physicians that Dr. Cobb chose to call during the process. We are confident that the board and broader physician community support this decision.
Dr. Cobb’s lease for the space was up in October. St. Vincent chose to exercise its option to not extend the lease and are planning an alternate use for that space. Our notice to Dr. Cobb about our decision to not renew was consistent with the terms in the original lease agreement that he signed.
We brought this decision for discussion to our health system board’s physician transaction review committee (PTRC) prior to informing Dr. Cobb. While this type of business transaction does not normally require board approval, we did so given Dr. Cobb’s long association with St. Vincent North. The committee supported our decision to move forward.
Although not known to the general public, there are fairly strict compliance guidelines — the federal Stark and Anti-Kickback statutes — that do not afford hospitals the opportunity to consider a physician’s contributions to a hospital with respect to business transactions (including clinic leases). Given the impact that this decision would have on patient care, we did offer Dr. Cobb two options to extend his time in the building. Unfortunately, he declined both. Since we purchased the building originally from Dr. Cobb, we offered to sell the building back to him. We are still more than open to selling him the building back under the original terms of our purchase. In the original lease agreement, that he signed and has been operating under, there was a provision for him to continue in the building (in this type of circumstance) that he found unacceptable at this point in time.
We wish Dr. Cobb and his colleagues the best of luck in their new location.
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