Hospitals submit certificates of need for Columbia County development

MGN Online

Friday, May 30, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The race is on for which hospital will open another location in Columbia County.

On Friday, University Hospital submitted its certificate of need to the state. GRU Augusta and Doctors Hospital still have about two weeks left to turn in theirs, but that doesn't mean they haven't started pushing to get ahead of the competition.

All three of these hospitals have been spending months putting together their certificates of need to prove they're the best choice for Columbia County. Now that those letters are getting turned in some hospitals are turning to the community for help pushing them ahead.

After months of preparation and more than four hundred pages of documents, University Hospital has their certificate of need off their hands.

The certificate is supposed to prove the hospital is needed in the area and the plan is up to date with the state health plan. Ed Burr the vice president for legal affairs at University says they meet these standards.

"We got the lowest costs, the highest quality, and the greatest patient satisfaction," he said.

Columbia County has already pledged its support to open up a hospital, Burr hopes they will allow the people to decide which one it will be.

"We'd love the opportunity for the citizens of Columbia County to decide which hospital they want," he said.

But now that the first certificate is in the fight for this new development is far from over. Other hospitals are using this time to rally some support. Doctors Hospital is asking for letters of support from elected officials, businesses, employees and volunteers.

They're not alone. GRU sent a letter to their students and staff asking for their support.

"I was actually happy to see that opprtunity presented to us," Alan Webster a third year medical student said.

If GRU wins, it may provide more learning opportunities for medical students, and possibly more residency spots, which could mean more doctors in Augusta. Webster said, "Certainly having more residency spots would attract more people to stay here and increase physician retention I would think."

But for the medical community they're just hoping there will be another opportunity opening up for them.

"As a medical student and a future physician it would just be great to have another hospital in town," Webster said.

The state says they objectively judge submissions on set requirements. So those letters should not have much impact on their decision. The department has five months to approve submissions from the date the certificates are submitted, but they could ask for certificates to be submitted more than once if they deem them incomplete. That could mean the process could take much longer, but the hospitals in the area are prepared for a long fight until the end.

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