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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Spotsylvania Regional says it saw a bump in business during the Mary Washington-Anthem dispute

Spotsylvania Regional saw an increase in business during January.

Did the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center benefit from the dispute between Mary Washington Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield?

Officials there believe they did, but the numbers are confusing.

Spotsylvania Regional officials said Tuesday that they saw an immediate increase in volumes after the new year. Mary Washington and Stafford hospitals withdrew from the Anthem network on Jan. 1., leaving Spotsylvania Regional as the only Anthem provider among the three area hospitals. That lasted until Feb. 1, when Mary Washington Healthcare and Anthem signed a new provider contract.

During January, the number of patients being treated in the emergency department at Spotsylvania Regional reached 100 per day and has stayed at that level since then, said Nancy Littlefield, chief nursing officer. This is an increase of 16 percent, compared to December 2011, Littlefield said. About a third of the new patients were insured by Anthem, she said.

The census of admitted patients reached 90 during the month, the first time that has happened, said Jeanne Burkett, marketing leader. January jumps also occurred in the number of lab tests and radiology tests, in staffing levels and in the number of doctors requesting clinical privileges, Burkett said.

But Mary Washington Healthcare also saw some increases in January, despite its break with Anthem. The number of inpatient admissions for Mary Washington and Stafford hospitals increased 15 percent in January 2012, compared to December 2011, said Debbie McInnis, spokeswoman.

The number of operating room procedures stayed the same, and the number of babies delivered increased slightly during the same period, she said. The number of patients seen in the two emergency departments was the only decline, she said, a drop of 6 percent. “We didn’t really see a major difference,” McInnis said.

Still, at Spotsylvania Regional, officials believe that the split confused some Anthem-insured patients and caused them to consider their options.

“Any time a hospital can’t accept a patient for whatever reason, that gives a competitor a chance to make a difference,” Littlefield said.