Littleton lawsuit

ConvenientMD Urgent Care at 551 Meadow St., was the subject of a hearing Wednesday in Grafton County Superior Court. Littleton Regional Healthcare is asking a judge to issue an injunction preventing the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services from granting a license to ConvenientMD Urgent Care, whose opening LRH fears would have a “devastating financial impact.”

NORTH HAVERHILL — Lawyers for Littleton Regional Healthcare were in court Wednesday trying to stop ConvenientMD Urgent Care walk-in clinic from opening, but it has already received an operating license from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Founded in 1907, Littleton Regional Healthcare is a nonprofit that operates a federally designated critical access hospital, and a walk-in clinic that is in a building on its campus.

In a lawsuit that it filed in October, and on Wednesday before Judge Lawrence MacLeod in Grafton County Superior Court, LRH said the opening of the ConvenientMD Urgent Care would cause it to lose an estimated $3.2 million annually in revenues while further exacerbating the losses of the obstetrics and behavioral health services programs.

LRH asked MacLeod to grant an injunction preventing the state from issuing a license to ConvenientMD Urgent Care, while its lawsuit wants MacLeod to find that DHHS Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers erred in making a determination that the clinic’s opening would not result “in a material adverse impact” to LRH.

At the beginning of the hearing, however, both parties informed MacLeod that on Tuesday night, they were provided letters from DHHS in which Meyers made a second determination that confirmed the first.

A short while later, Atty. Daniel Deschenes, who represents ConvenientMD Urgent Care, told the court that earlier in the day the DHHS issued the license to his client, adding, “Patients are welcome right now.”

Deschenes and Lawrence Edelman, who represented the DHHS, argued that LRH, by state law, was required to follow the administrative appeal process, which should have begun with a motion to Health and Human Services for a re-hearing. If the hospital received a denial, they said, the next step would be to appeal to the NH Supreme Court, which, the attorneys noted, can also grant stays.

Atty. Jason Gregoire said Littleton Regional Healthcare wasn’t trying “to prevent a competitor from coming to town” but was trying to protect health care services for the broader community.

He said there was “not sufficient patient volume” for two walk-in clinics in Littleton and that the opening of ConvenientMD Urgent Care could result in the closing of the birthing center at Littleton Regional Healthcare.

The next closest birthing center is at Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth, 51 miles away, he said.

Thursday, January 16, 2020