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A bill passed by the Iowa Senate this week addresses a concern brought up last year during the controversy over whether to allow a Tennessee-based company to open a psychiatric hospital in the Quad-Cities.

The Senate bill requires hospitals wanting to change classification get state approval through the Certificate of Need process. It was approved by a 49-0 vote Monday.

Genesis Health System and UnityPoint Health Trinity opposed the request by Strategic Behavioral Health to build a 72-bed psychiatric hospital in Bettendorf. One of the concerns raised before the State Health Facilities Council was that Strategic might some day try to convert to a different type of hospital without having to get a certificate of need.

Strategic denied it had any intent to do so.

The facilities council eventually approved the Memphis company's plans for the hospital, and it plans to break ground in April.

Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, the bill's sponsor, said the new legislation is aimed at making sure medical facilities that get state approval follow through with their promises.

"If you’re going to come in and be a certain hospital, you will do that," he said this week.

One of the findings of facts in the state health facilities council's decision was that redistribution of psychiatric inpatient beds to another type of acute care bed category may not require additional review and approval.

A Genesis official said this bill would close a licensing loophole.

Jim Shaheen, Strategic's president, said in an email Wednesday the company has no objection to the measure. He reiterated it has no intent "nor would we ever have to convert this psychiatric hospital to another type of hospital."

The legislation has been sent to the House.

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