Clinic expansion plan halted in Columbia County

The physicians at Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics will not be pursuing a $34.6 million clinic in Columbia County but might work with existing facilities to expand services there, the CEO of Physicians Practice Group said Wednesday.


The effort, which the group has been pursuing since 2006 despite objections from other providers in the county that it was not needed and duplicative, fell victim to the economy, said David S. Hefner, the CEO of PPG.

“The physicians said this has swelled too big for both today’s economic climate and difficulties,” he said. The plans called for a clinic with 45 exam rooms, three operating rooms and an imaging center. It was to be paid for with tax-exempt bonds that would not utilize taxpayer money, officials have said.

In their objections to the request the physicians made in 2008 for a Certificate of Need that would allow them to build, other health care providers said that less than half of the outpatient operating capacity available in Columbia County was being used. That opens the door for PPG to begin exploring the option of working with others already there, Hefner said.

“To the degree that we can partner with other community providers, whether they be hospitals or physicians or other allied health professionals, we should look at ways of doing that and leveraging their investments and resources on behalf of Columbia County’s populations at the same time providing what expertise we can, rather than duplicating,” he said.

Hefner, who also serves as executive vice president for clinical affairs for Georgia Health Sciences University and oversees the whole health system, officially came on board in July,

“That’s probably one of the values of having a new CEO, to be able to take a look at things and work things through,” he said.