Doctors CEO Doug Welch said that the decision to appeal has been made but that it probably won’t be filed until late this week or early next week. He declined to comment further until the appeal is filed.
Both Doctors and University Hospital were denied the required certificate of need to build separate, free-standing emergency departments in Evans. A University official has said it might also appeal the Jan. 25 decision but was skeptical about its prospects for success because the courts have sided with the Georgia Department of Community Health in such decisions in the past. Also, the state has never approved a free-standing ER, although states such as South Carolina do allow them.
Doctors had planned for a $9.8 million, 12-room center across from Marshall Square in Evans. University had plans for a $9.6 million, 18-bed facility on its Evans campus off North Belair Road not far from the proposed site for Doctors’ project. Because the two requests were filed within weeks of each and were close to each other, the state put the two together for consideration.
In rejecting both, the state determined that they had failed to demonstrate a need for either facility although Columbia County is the largest county in the state without an ER.
“No evidence, however, was provided to document that this population has limited access to emergency services,” the 22-page decision states. “The non-existence of an emergency service provider within Columbia County does not in and of itself render these services inaccessible to residents.”
The need for emergency services is met by existing providers, the state ruled.
Both Doctors and University had complained that their ER volumes are up and straining capacity and that it would be difficult to expand on their current campuses.
Doctors and University have 30 days after the decision to appeal.