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University Hospital takes next step toward providing services in Columbia County

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University Hospital took the first concrete step toward building the first hospital in Columbia County, Georgia’s largest county without one.

University filed its letter of intent to build a short stay/acute care hospital with the Healthcare Facility Regulation Division of the Georgia Department of Community Health. The health care system must then file its application for a certificate of need within 30 days of that filing.

In the filing, University said it will seek to build a 100-bed, 250,000-square-foot facility at 447 N. Belair Road, which is on the Evans campus of the health care system. It pegged the cost at $143,940,000. All of this is in line with what University previously proposed to the Columbia County Commission.

University is one of three Augusta hospitals seeking to build a hospital in fast-growing Columbia County. Doctors Hospital and Georgia Regents Health System also submitted proposals to the commission, which originally planned to partner with one but instead chose to encourage all three to submit applications and will work with the one that gets the required certification.

All of the hospitals have signaled that they would seek a certificate of need through rarely used exceptions to the needs standards that health care facilities are normally required to meet to demonstrate the project would serve an existing need in the community. University has said it would seek an exception that allows projects if the county supplies 20 percent of the cost of the hospital.

Georgia Regents has said it would apply under exceptions for existing teaching hospitals or existing trauma centers. Doctors has said it would use the trauma center exception once it is certified as a trauma center, which it expects this summer.

If filed within a certain time period, the state is likely to bundle the applications together and rule on them jointly. University and Doctors were previously shot down last year when seeking separately to build a freestanding emergency department in the county because the state said the county was adequately served by emergency services at the hospitals in Augusta. All of the applicants have acknowledged that there are already a plethora of beds in Augusta that would make meeting the need standard difficult.

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Little Lamb
49126
Points
Little Lamb 05/01/14 - 10:39 am
0
1
West

If they would build it just across the county line in McDuffie County, they could avoid having the taxpayers cough up the 20%. It would be a win-win.

Beachgal
396
Points
Beachgal 05/01/14 - 10:50 am
0
0
McDuffie

McDuffie Hospital is now part of the University Health Care System. They are currently constructing a brand new facility to replace the old hospital.

jimmymac
47789
Points
jimmymac 05/01/14 - 10:53 am
0
0
FRAUD
Unpublished

This guy submitted 21000 fraudulent Medicare claims and he hasn't been charged with fraud? The hospital shouldn't suffer because this crook filed the claims. He should go to prison like anybody else would if they did the same thing.

Riverman1
93854
Points
Riverman1 05/01/14 - 11:52 am
0
3
How Does County 20% Contribution Work?

I want to know more about how this 20% county contribution will work. There have been various scenarios floated. If the county indeed has to put up 20% in any form from future taxes or what have you, let's hope University's proposal for a CON fails.

Riverman1
93854
Points
Riverman1 05/01/14 - 08:39 pm
0
1
No CON Approval for ED Anywhere in State

"University and Doctors were previously shot down last year when seeking separately to build a free-standing Emergency Department in the county because the state said the county was adequately served by emergency services at the hospitals in Augusta."

I don't know of a CON being granted anywhere in the state for a free standing emergency department.

Considering all the beds that are mainly located downtown, if I were University or GRU, I'd be proactive and propose to close the downtown facility and open a comparable one in Columbia County. That would eliminate the issue of too many beds.

Right on
215
Points
Right on 05/01/14 - 01:22 pm
0
1
Build it and they will

Build it and they will come!!!

crackerjack
153
Points
crackerjack 05/02/14 - 07:03 am
2
0
University

Since the University Hospital received an "A" rating on patients receiving staph and other infections while there, and the other hospitals receiving a "C" rating, I hope University is the one that is picked.

EnoughAlready2
217
Points
EnoughAlready2 05/02/14 - 07:13 am
2
0
Riverman....

apparently is not interested in the quality of care that University brings to the table.

beasyour
36
Points
beasyour 05/02/14 - 08:45 am
0
1
University Can't even operate their own ER

Columbia County needs a ER and GRheath is the only hospital that runs its own ER, so they should get the Hospital. I can assure you Jim Davis does not have any control over the ER at University and does not care to even want to address it. So my question is why bring that drama to Columbia County. Let University stay where they are and maybe they can try to control their own ER before they try to expend.

Riverman1
93854
Points
Riverman1 05/02/14 - 11:06 am
1
1
EA2

EA2 said, "Riverman...apparently is not interested in the quality of care that University brings to the table."

EA2 is apparently not interested in discussing the facts and would rather comment on what he believes I'm not interested in. Actually, I've tried to be fairly neutral about this whole matter. One thing I am against is Columbia County spending anything whether it is future tax revenue or what. Doesn't University still have the resident training program? If so they are a teaching hospital and can use that if you believe the thesis that a loophole is necessary. Their proposed hospital is also on the smallish side without many specialties.

LoDu4
48
Points
LoDu4 05/02/14 - 02:46 pm
1
0
Riverman??

I am confused, as well. You are extremely well read and have commented on most of the Augusta Chronicle's coverage of local issues. A Tom Corwin article of 3/18/2014, reads "University Hospital would try to get a CON using the first exception(20% county funding) but has committed to forego tax-exempt status for that facility and provide enough tax payment to cover the county's share...". That appears to be simple and make the University proposal financially equivalent to Doctor's and GRU's proposals. My concern is regarding the GRU representation of self funding. An Augusta Chronicle article from 2/5/14, reads "the referendum must pass and include $8 million for Georgia Regents University or GRU won't build a new cancer research center in Augusta".
Often during the commission's review process of the proposals they made reference to "research" and " physician training" as an asset of the GRU proposal. Could this potentially affect the Columbia County tax payers, as well?? Also, another recent AC article 4/25/14 reads "University Hospital showed a positive margin of $7 million in its first quarter" and "in its most recent three months Georgia regents saw a loss of $6 million due primarily to bad weather". Sorry to summarize the newspaper but, I am not sure why you appear to be against UH and leaning towards GRU. I was hoping you could clarify.

Riverman1
93854
Points
Riverman1 05/02/14 - 07:24 pm
0
0
LoDu4

I must say your comment is much more shaded toward one hospital than any of mine have been. Keep in mind, University didn’t propose the attempt to pay back the 20% in any form until I and others started pointing out the millions the county would have to pay. There were inchoate remarks from University early about how they would reimburse the county, but it does appear your quote is their finalized proposal. I’ll just point out if they say they will forego the tax exempt status such as Doctors, they are not being exactly candid since they will use that to pay the county back the tens of millions. Thus it’s actually accurate they will pay no taxes until the tens of millions are paid back. By the way, can you answer for me who owns University Hospital even though the foundation runs it?

Concerning GRU, a state owned and funded hospital would be built. It would be much larger than the one University proposes with much more specialty care. That’s being overlooked. Your reference to the cancer research center in Augusta requiring matching funding may be accurate, but they certainly haven’t said anything about matching funding for a Columbia County hospital. To suggest otherwise is cotton candy conjecturatti.

Nothing I’ve said rules University out. It’s up to the committee. To sum up my concerns, I don’t like the county having to pay or forgo anything if that’s how you want to look at it. I don’t like the smaller size they announced. A plus in my mind for University is they will build on Belair Rd next to their current office complex. That location is close to my house and the current population center. GRU says they will build out toward Grovetown and have hinted they will need county help to find the land. I could get downtown as quickly as I could get to Grovetown.

Honestly, as Ron Cross said, all three are excellent institutions and any of them will GREATLY enhance our county.

Riverman1
93854
Points
Riverman1 05/02/14 - 07:56 pm
0
0
Important Question

The most important question is what the hospitals plan for their Columbia County facilities in the future. Will they keep it small with all specialty care downtown or do they plan to expand into a full service hospital with full specialty care? I believe most Columbia County residents want the best possible hospital.

LoDu4
48
Points
LoDu4 05/03/14 - 11:58 am
0
0
Thanks Riverman

Thank you for answering. I am leaning toward University because of the information provided in the many Augusta Chronicle articles. I asked the questions of you because I value other opinions and you are often insightful. I agree with many of your comments and was not sure what was leading you to prefer GRU from the info in the newspaper. You have attempted to be somewhat non-partisan but it does seem that you have a favorite. I agree that all three can provide quality medical care to the residents of Columbia County and the taxpayers should not be responsible. I enjoy reading your comments!

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