A spokesman for Missouri's Hospital Association t Monday that it opposed a measure to grant 3-day post-operative stays in an orthopedic surgeon's office in Chesterfield Valley.
Greg Bratcher, BJC HealthCare policy analysis director, described the proposed measure as "skirting the rules" of regulations as a hospital.
He said the office should be licensed as a hospital, which in turn has stringent regulations for building, patient treatment, and many other factors.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. George Paletta has called for stays up to 72 hours at his offices, post-op, and perhaps for six or seven people a week.
Paletta is the St. Louis Cardinals team physician. He wants to expand his 10-doctor practice into two buildings in Chesterfield Valley at Highway 40 and Boones Crossing exit.
Bratcher said an average hospital stay is 3.88 days. He provided a section of Missouri law defining a hospital as a place where three unrelated people receive 24-hour consecutive care in a week.
"This suggests it is probably a hospital, and anything that tries to skirt the rules...is probably not appropriate," Bratcher told the City Council.
The city council went on to vote unanimously to approve a first-reading of the zoning changes that would allow the 3-day stays at Paletta's office. A second vote on the measure is set for August 20, the next public council meeting, 7pm, City Hall.
The council publically debated the setback on a canopy for one of Paletta's buildings, but there was no public talk of hospital licensing and 3-day stays Monday.
Outside the meeting, Bratcher pointed out that hospitals are required to treat emergency room patients regardless of fees. Emergency care typically is more costly than scheduled, planned medical care.
So pulling routine surgery patients from the mix of hospital patients with boutique doctors' practices, could prove financially troubling for hospitals, and patients.
"We are concerned about a level playing field, and patient safety," Bratcher said.
In May, when the measure first came before the city's planning board, Paletta called for one-night stays for patients. The planning board passed the decision on to the city council.