Er­langer is de­nied per­mis­sion to build surgery cen­ter in Ca­toosa

The Catoosa County News - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam Cook

Er­langer Health Sys­tem’s plan to build an am­bu­la­tory surgery cen­ter in Ca­toosa County was of­fi­cially shot down last week when the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Health de­nied the com­pany’s re­quest for a cer­tifi­cate of need.

Er­langer’s pro­posal in­cluded con­struct­ing a $9.77 mil­lion surgery cen­ter on Bat­tle­field Park­way, but met re­sis­tance from lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and other hos­pi­tals since fil­ing their re­quest in Novem­ber.

State reg­u­la­tions re­strict health care fa­cil­i­ties from ex­pand­ing into com­mu­ni­ties where there’s not a spe­cific need. With CHI Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal, CHI Me­mo­rial Park­way, and Hamil­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Dal­ton al­ready in ex­is­tence near Ca­toosa County, state of­fi­cials agreed that Er­langer’s claim to build was un­nec­es­sary.

The de­ci­sion was handed down on Mon­day, March 26, which was a big win for CHI Me­mo­rial.

“We are pleased that the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Health has re­jected Er­langer’s claim that Me­mo­rial should be pro­hib­ited from pro­vid­ing sur­gi­cal ser­vices at CHI Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal Ge­or­gia,” said An­drew McGill, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of CHI Me­mo­rial. “We wel­come the af­fir­ma­tion that CHI Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal Ge­or­gia is a full-ser­vice hos­pi­tal and never doubted that we were en­ti­tled to pro­vide sur­gi­cal ser­vices. Our team is work­ing dili­gently to pro­vide the same high qual­ity of health­care that the com­mu­nity has come to ex­pect from CHI Me­mo­rial.”

Late last year, CHI Me­mo­rial pur­chased the hos­pi­tal for­merly known as both Cor­ner­stone Med­i­cal Cen­ter and Hutch­e­son Med­i­cal Cen­ter in re­cent years. Also pur­chased was the for­mer Hutch­e­son on the Park­way, a fa­cil­ity that of­fers a surgery cen­ter al­ready.

Er­langer’s main ar­gu­ment in their claim to build was that Hutch­e­son had let its right to of­fer sur­gi­cal ser­vices lapse dur­ing the pe­riod of time when the pur­chase by CHI Me­mo­rial was tak­ing place in late 2017.

On Jan. 18, the Ca­toosa County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers unan­i­mously voted to con­test Er­langer’s plans.

Af­ter that meet­ing, Com­mis­sioner Jim Cut­ler stated he felt like Me­mo­rial was mak­ing the true in­vest­ment in Ca­toosa County over Er­langer.

“I don’t speak for the en­tire Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, but my per­sonal opin­ion is that it’s more of a block­ing ma­neu­ver on the part of Er­langer, rather than in­vest­ing in Ca­toosa County,” Cut­ler said. “Me­mo­rial comes in and buys Cor­ner­stone, in­vest­ing money and get­ting a foothold in Ca­toosa and Walker County. ... They bought Hutch­e­son on the Park­way and bought land down Bat­tle­field Park­way too, so it’s a ques­tion of who’s mak­ing the big­ger com­mit­ment to Ca­toosa and Walker County.”

CHI Me­mo­rial Park­way, for­merly known as Hutch­e­son on the Park­way, was part of the longterm in­vest­ment CHI Me­mo­rial made in Ca­toosa County when it bought the fa­cil­ity in 2017. (Ca­toosa News photo/Adam Cook)

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