NORTH HAVERHILL — Littleton Regional Healthcare is asking a judge to block the state from granting a license to ConvenientMD Urgent Care, saying the walk-in center would cause the hospital to lose $3.2 million a year.
ConvenientMD plans to open at 551 Meadow St. just off Interstate 93 Exit 42 and about a half-mile southwest of downtown Littleton. On July 23, Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers determined the facility “will not result in a material adverse impact” to Littleton Regional Healthcare.
Portsmouth-based ConvenientMD operates more than two dozen urgent care centers in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.
Last spring, the hospital system opened its own walk-in center — Littleton Urgent Care at Littleton Regional Healthcare.
Meyers’ action was required because Littleton Regional, which is about 3 miles away from the ConvenientMD site, is a federally designated critical-access hospital. Under New Hampshire law, a walk-in center that would be located within 15 miles of such a hospital must apply to the state for approval and requires the commissioner to determine whether it would it would have an adverse impact on “essential health care services” provided by the hospital.
Littleton Regional filed a lawsuit against the state health department in October in Grafton County Superior Court seeking to vacate Meyer’s determination and prevent his agency from issuing a license to ConvenientMD. It also asked for a new impact determination and to find that Meyers violated state law by shifting the burden of proof of “material adverse impact” from the health department to the hospital.
As part of that lawsuit, Littleton also filed a motion for a temporary injunction against the health department issuing a license to the ConvenientMD.
A hearing on that motion will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
A report by the hospital’s accounting firm concluded there would be a “devastating financial impact” if ConvenientMD opens, according to court documents. Littleton Regional estimated it would lose $2.6 million in operating margin “due to the loss of an estimated 2,520 annual emergency department visits and related ancillary services.” It would lose an additional $635,000 due to the loss of 3,250 primary care visits, and there would be “continued and increased losses for the obstetrics and behavioral health services,” the hospital said.
In its lawsuit, Littleton Regional noted that on the same day Meyers made the impact determination on ConvenientMD Urgent Care, he reached out to two state senators, Dan Feltes and Jeb Bradley, to express his frustration “with the impact-determination process.”
Meyers, according to hospital, called the law “broken” and said it forced the health department to “rely upon an inquiry to the critical access hospital to make a determination that it does not necessarily have the information, expertise, resources or guidance to make."