RALEIGH — Rex Healthcare wants to restructure its northern Wake County surgery center in a way that would allow physicians to have an ownership stake in the facility, a change the health care group says could lower costs.
Rex has asked state regulators for approval to convert Rex Surgery Center of Wakefield from a hospital-based surgery center to a separately licensed outpatient surgery center.
Physicians, a group of whom already have expressed interest in an ownership opportunity, would then be able to buy into the surgery center located off Capital Boulevard.
“By partnering with a hospital, physicians can realize greater cost savings and greater control over operations. At the same time, hospitals can build strong physician relationships that ultimately support hospital recruiting and retention initiatives,” Rex said in its request to regulators.
The center would continue to offer the same services to patients in Wake and Franklin counties, where Rex competitor Novant just won approval to add a second operating room to its planned outpatient surgery center in Youngsville.
Rex officials say they already provide quality care to the region and have appealed the decision. Novant’s Youngsville center, located just a few miles north of Wakefield, would harm them financially, according to their appeal.
Novant is opposed to the Rex conversion. In comments to the state, Novant disputed the projections Rex used to explain why the change would be beneficial and said its forthcoming center would better serve the local population.
In their applications, both Novant and Rex noted the benefits of outpatient surgery centers, which can result in lower costs for providers and patients because of greater efficiencies.
Through North Carolina’s Certificate of Need process, regulators evaluate how new health care services or facilities would affect the health care system, including costs.
Rex has converted a hospital-based surgery center before, at Rex Surgery Center of Cary. Physicians bought a stake in the center several years ago, although Rex retains a majority share.
The change “ultimately resulted in better patient care and satisfaction,” according to Rex.
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