Deadline set for decision on Columbia Co. hospital

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News 12 at 6 o' clock/ February 28, 2014

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga.--Columbia County is the largest county in the state without its own hospital, but they're one step closer to changing that. Commissioners met with representatives from three area hospitals Friday, all competing for the bid.

Doctors Hospital, University Hospital, and GRU have each laid out their plan. By March 18th, commissioners expect to make their choice.

It's a decision Ken Freeman has been following closely. He moved to Grovetown from Augusta a little over 6 months ago. It's a move that a lot of people are making as Columbia County continues to grow.

Freeman says, "It's growing. There's more stuff to do."

Freeman's 3 year old stepdaughter keeps him pretty busy, but when she isn't feeling well, a long drive to the hospital isn't convenient.

He found that out the hard way. He says, "We had to rush and we actually got pulled over and the police officer didn't understand why we were driving so fast. I was concerned about her. That was the first priority."

That's why, when it comes to deciding which hospital to bring to Columbia County, location is key to Commissioner Bill Morris.

Morris says, "We don't want to just forget about District 4 because it's all spread out and not a lot of concentration with population other than Grovetown and Harlem."

GRU's plan would bring a hospital the furthest out in Columbia County, closer to Grovetown. University Hospital and Doctor's Hospital both have plans to put the new hospital closer to the metro area.

The decision will come down to a point system, looking at a number of different factors including the cost, number of beds, and location.

Once commissioners make their choice on March 18th, it will be up to the state to accept or deny the plan.