UPDATE: Request denied for free-standing ER in Columbia Co.

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Two local hospitals are saying the state got it wrong.

Both Doctors Hospital and University Hospital are appealing the decision to deny a free-standing emergency room in Columbia County.

A 21-page report explains the state's decision to deny the request, but the hospitals aren't giving up.

Doctors Hospital filed its formal appeal with the Department of Community Health this past Friday. VP of Legal Affairs Ed Burr says University Hospital filed theirs shortly after.

Now they wait for the state to appoint a judge. When they do, they'll have a hearing.

Hospital representatives say that probably won't happen for another six months.

Until then, they say they'll be gathering evidence, something they hope will change the state's mind.

"The state's position is that people from Columbia County are making it to the emergency departments at University and Doctors. We believe people that are desperately ill have access to care. But it's not the care they want," Burr said.

Burr says the overcrowding in the ERs in this area will become undeniable. He says the ER at University sees about 80,000 patients a year, about 10 percent of those coming from Columbia County. That's the eighth highest in the state.

He says they will have to expand somewhere, and they hope it will be in the form of an emergency room in Columbia County.

He says he knows it's a long shot, but they'll be looking at current free-standing ERs as a model to try to get some patterns of usage.

They say they hope that information will prove to the state an ER in Columbia County actually will be used by the people there.

Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013

EVANS, Ga. (WRDW) -- Columbia County will not be getting a new emergency room.

Doctors Hospital's application to build a free-standing emergency room was denied on Friday.

CEO Doug Welch released the following statement:
"As the first to recognize the need for emergency care in Columbia County and the first to apply for a Free Standing Emergency Room, we’re certainly disappointed in the department’s decision to deny our application.

We were looking forward to bringing emergency care closer to the people of Columbia County. We understand that the time to reach health care providers is essential in an emergent situation.

Further, we were eager to make a sizable financial investment in Columbia County, to add to the county’s employment and to significantly contribute to the tax base.

As part of the Hospital Corporation of American (HCA), Doctors Hospital has experience with developing and executing FSERs. Our company currently has 24 such facilities operating throughout the country with seven more currently being built. I personally opened a location while CEO of a hospital in Texas and I know firsthand what a great community benefit it is.

At this point, we will reevaluate our options and meet with community leaders to determine how to proceed."

The company plans to meet with city leaders this week to find out how to proceed.

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