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Columbia County hospital committee meets today

Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 7:56 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 8:03 AM
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A committee to help recommend a bidder to build the first hospital in Columbia County will meet today.

The 11-person Columbia County Hospital Review Committee appointed by the Columbia County Commission will hear from all three hospitals vying to work with the commission to put in a proposal for a hospital. The meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. in the Evans Government Center Auditorium.

The meeting was originally scheduled as a closed meeting Monday evening but was rescheduled as an open meeting after a protest by The Augusta Chronicle.

The three bidders – Georgia Regents Health System, Doctors Hospital and University Hospital – will make presentations to committee members.

The committee is scheduled to meet later and make a recommendation to the commission. The county would then work on making a request for a Certificate of Need to build a hospital in the county, the state’s largest without one.

University and Doctors were rebuffed last year in competing attempts to get a CON to build a free-standing Emergency Department. The state ruled that the county is adequately served by emergency services in Augusta. Doctors acknowledged in its bid that the state’s needs requirement would prohibit it from getting a CON to build a hospital in Columbia County.

However, there are three exceptions to the needs requirement that county officials said the state made them aware of last year. They are: if the hospital would be built by an existing teaching hospital, or by an existing trauma center, or if the county puts up 20 percent of the cost of construction. None of the exceptions has been used before.

The three bidders have put forth different plans for what the new hospital should look like.

Georgia Regents has by far the most ambitious proposal, pushing a “health campus” that would include a satellite of the university and a 144-bed hospital and office building, with project costs anywhere from $280 million to $310 million. University, which already has a large health campus in Evans, is proposing a 100-bed facility there at a cost of $130 million to $140 million. Doctors is pushing a 108-bed, $150 million hospital with a $14.5 million medical office building.

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freeheart2010
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freeheart2010 02/19/14 - 03:29 am
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Heart matters

I like all 3 hospitals but University makes the most since for Columbia County. They are already established in CC with land, offices, physicians., and I think if you polled the citizens they would be the preferred hospital.
Having one of the top heart programs in the state should verify another reason they should be in CC. Finally, do the citizens want a teaching hospital in CC? That means you'll see medical students, residents and eventually your doctor. Teaching hospitals serve a purpose that usually doesn't equal a community hospital concept. I asked a few CC residents the other day which hospital did they prefer. All 3 said University bc of their established relationships with their doctor. I asked what would you do if it was another hospital in CC? Two said " University is my hospital no matter where they are located". The other said I will drive downtown because of my heart problems and the great Heart services that University offers.
Whatever the decision is I hope it's based on what CC residents need, not just based on size, expense, and political pressure. I love CC and I just want a simple community hospital that takes care of our residents and offers services with the same compassion and professionalism as their main campuses...

seenitB4
87116
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seenitB4 02/19/14 - 09:37 am
1
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freeheart I agree

Having one of the top heart programs in the state should verify another reason they should be in CC. Finally, do the citizens want a teaching hospital in CC?

Columbia county will have a lot of aging elders in the coming years...I can see the need growing there...University would be a great choice.

Marinerman1
4846
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Marinerman1 02/19/14 - 09:44 am
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I Agree 'freeheart2010'

I agree with you, 'freeheart2010'. Unfortunately, the only "free" option for the county is MCG (sorry Dr. Azziz). @ an Open Enrollment meeting where I used to work, Blue Cross Blue Shield did not accept University. One of the older guys told the BCBS people that if his family needed heart help, they were going to University, and they WERE going to pay for it. That was in 1991. Heart loyalty, even back then.

Riverman1
83821
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Riverman1 02/19/14 - 02:45 pm
1
1
CON and Doctors

“Doctors acknowledged in its bid that the state’s needs requirement would prohibit it from getting a CON to build a hospital in Columbia County.”

Because someone from Doctors said they wouldn’t get a CON for a certain reason does NOT make it true. You can say anything you want. The State CON Committee has not verified any such statement. For Doctors to use that as an excuse to obtain county money is suspect. I’m not saying Doctors is attempting to do this, but any such vague statements from someone involved in the process should not have consideration in the process if it leads to the county providing funding.

Riverman1
83821
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Riverman1 02/19/14 - 11:11 am
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Let's Clear Up Something Else

Heart Matters said, "“Having one of the top heart programs in the state should verify another reason they should be in CC.”

First of all, MCG has an excellent heart program. The cardiothoracic surgery program is one of the top programs in the state under the leadership of Dr. Kamath. Check the Medicare heart surgery mortality rates of MCG vs. University if you want to see the facts. Don’t let the TV commercials fool you.

freeheart2010
10
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freeheart2010 02/19/14 - 10:27 am
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Heart programs

Riverman, I've been in healthcare for 25 years. I have worked at some of the top heart hospitals in the country. I don't get my facts from TV commercials. I have no loyalty to any of the hospitals but University's heart program is top 3 in state behind Emory and Piedmont. GRU is rebuilding their heart program. They want the CC heart patients of the future. I read you comments a lot and you seem to be an expert on About everything. Me,, I know healthcare and heart programs., Thats all! As a former CC resident of 40 years, I just want what's best for. CC. Gru serves their purpose greatly for what they do and where they aRe located.

Riverman1
83821
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Riverman1 02/19/14 - 10:50 am
1
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More

I apologize for the three comments in a row, but, obviously, I understand a good deal about these hospitals and the CON process. All three hospitals have good and bad points. One mindset we should NOT have is that we should be happy with a smallish community hospital. Columbia County is going to grow and the patients will have insurance in a far greater percentage than hospitals in Augusta. I want whatever hospital is chosen to have ironclad agreements with the county to reinvest the profits in the Columbia County hospital. I have questions about MCG diverting most of the profits downtown and to the medical school. I also have questions about University with their ultimate control being the dysfunctional Richmond County Commission. Trust me on this, hundreds of millions in profits are going to come from this hospital and if contracts to reinvest in Columbia County are not in place, others are going to try to control those profits.

Riverman1
83821
Points
Riverman1 02/19/14 - 11:26 am
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Cardiac Surgery Ratings

Freeheat2010, thanks for your 25 years in healthcare, but others also have experience, realize. Personal beliefs are one thing, but let's be accurate here. University doesn't have a pediatric cardiac surgeon. MCG has pediatric cardiac surgery in addition to an adult ECMO program.

MCG is rated in the top ten hospitals in the state for cardiac surgery...number 9. For overall cardiac services they are rated number 10. University is not rated in either category although they are rated number 10 in cardiology services.
http://www.georgiatrend.com/December-2011/Top-Georgia-Hospitals/

freeheart2010
10
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freeheart2010 02/19/14 - 11:50 am
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Pediatric

GRU lost pediatric heart surgeon last month. I had a relative who needed emergent heart surgery and had to transfer to other children's hospital.

Riverman1
83821
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Riverman1 02/19/14 - 06:36 pm
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FreeHeart, that may be the

FreeHeart, that may be the case. Thanks for the update, but they do have a pediatric heart surgery program and will have another pediatric heart surgeon I assume. I KNOW the heart programs of the THREE hospitals in the area doing heart surgery very well. Four if you count Aiken. I know the stats, the players and the facilities.

Like I said I find positives and negatives with all the hospital proposals, but MCG has an excellent heart surgery program is my point. They are actually rated higher than University's program. Check the stats on the particular surgeons. All MCG cardiac surgeons are superb. University had a great surgeon in Roddy Kitchens, but he retired from doing hearts. Dr. Watts is another good surgeon who is leaving soon. University lost the fantastic Dr. Kamath who now heads the MCG program.

You make this point that a community hospital would be better served by University, but then go off into this argument about the best cardiac program which is not based on the statistics. The fact is for the near future all cardiac surgery will be at the downtown hospitals.

Honestly, as far as assuring the best for Columbia County, I could go along with University being chosen IF assurances are given to the county that the profits will be invested in growing the hospital in the county...and, yes, that means cardiac surgery eventually. I want the decision to be based on facts and not subjective opinions. Also, keep in mind the convoluted control Richmond County government has over University.

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