Council Denies Hospital Artificial Kidney License

The Massachusetts Public Health Council voted Wednesday to postpone indefinitely issuing a license to the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital--the Medical School's teaching hospital in Roxbury--to supervise the state's only non-hospital artifical kidney unit.

Two Brigham staff members--Dr. Constantine L. Hampers, instructor in Medicine, and Dr. Edward B. Hager, clinical instructor in Medicine--founded and still direct the unit in question: the Babcock Artificial Kidney Center, Inc., in Brookline.

According to Dr. Ann H. Pettigrew, acting director of the Division of Medical Care in the Public Health Department, the council's decision was based on Brigham's violation of the provisions in its original contract with Babcock and on the hospital's "general bad faith."

Sticky Fingers

The violation involves Dr. John P. Merrill '23, associate professor of Medicine, who is supervisor of the artificial kidney program at Babcock. This year's prospectus of National Medical Care, Inc. (NMC)--the company which owns Babcock--listed Merrill as a member of its Medical Advisory Board. This violates a provision of the contract which states that the supervisor should have no financial interest whatsoever in the operation.

But according to Brigham director Dr. William E. Hassan, Jr., member of the Faculty of Medicine, Merrill resigned his position with NMC after the prospectus was issued.

Pettigrew said Thursday that the alleged violation involving Merrill is only an example of Brigham's unreliability in the contract agreements, and that a more important problem has been Brigham's refusal to take full responsibility for the artificial kidney operation.

Hassan said yesterday that Babcock will probably submit a new application for a license at the next meeting of the Public Health Council.