Nearly 6-year battle to build first Columbia County hospital could end
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A long legal battle between Doctors Hospital and Augusta University may be coming to an end after a Georgia court of appeals decided who can build the first hospital in Columbia County.
The legal battle has been going on for almost six years, we found out the need for the hospital has only been growing.
It's been a long road leading to the first hospital in Columbia County --
“The plans for this hospital go back to when the certificate of need was filed back in 2014.”
That set off a legal battle between AU Medical Center and Doctors Hospital to get hands first on building.
AU just won their most recent court battle, but Doctors Hospital does have the ability to file another appeal. That could drag out the dispute even longer.
“I think that frustration lives with the residents in Columbia County and the leaders within Columbia County, who really want this hospital and these services available for their citizens,” Katrina Keefer, chief executive officer of Augusta University Health, said.
While the hospital may have been standing still, Columbia County hasn’t. The population has increased roughly 12 percent since this all started.
And today, around 17,000 more residents need medical care, including people like Bill Jones’ daughter who suffered from seizures.
“We had an ice storm, and she had a seizure during an ice storm. And an ambulance took over an hour to get out to her, and another hour to get back to the emergency room,” Bill Jones, a Columbia County resident, said.
Another parent dealing with similar anxieties about her son. For Alondra Truesdell, it’s a long drive, regardless of what hospital she goes to.
“It takes 30 minutes to get there, and then parking, especially when it’s so crowded it takes even longer. It took me 20 minutes just to park,” Truesdell, a Columbia County mom, said.
It all amplifies the need to get things started on a piece of property in Grovetown.
“This is needed, it’s needed for the people, you know, so we just need to put all this behind us, and get some construction going tomorrow,” Jones said.
“It takes a while to build a hospital, so we need to get started,” Keefer said.
And hopefully sooner than later.
AU Health says they can move forward with their plan, unless Doctors Hospital files an appeal. They have 10 days to do so.
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