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University, Doctors hospitals drop appeals of emergency department decision

Officials want to talk expansion rules with state

Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:15 PM
Last updated Friday, April 19, 2013 1:29 AM
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Doctors and Univer­sity hospitals are dropping their appeals of the state’s denial for permission to build a free-standing emergency department in Columbia Coun­ty.

Officials said they hope to work with the Georgia De­­part­ment of Community Health to come up with rules for how such facilities might be allowed in the future in Geor­­gia, which has never approved them.

The hospitals presented similar proposals to build a free-standing emergency department in Columbia County, the state’s largest county without an ER. The proposals were shot down Jan. 25 because the state said that the Augusta area already has plenty of emergency services and that the proposals failed to demonstrate the need for new services.

The hospitals decided to appeal although it was a long shot. Doctors CEO Doug Welch said that became more evident as it prepared for an appeal hearing, Welch said.

“The likelihood of us winning an appeal would have been small,” he said.

Instead, the hospitals hope to work with the department on why the concept is worth pursuing and perhaps help it create some guidelines for how they might be implemented, officials said.

“If nothing else, the applications have sparked awareness that there’s a need to come up with a plan at the regulatory level for free-standing emergency departments,” said Ed Burr, University’s vice president for legal affairs.

Perhaps looking at South Carolina, where the emergency departments are allowed, would be helpful, Welch said.

University and Doc­tors said their emergency rooms are overcrowded, which was one reason for looking to Evans. Welch said he has permission from the state to turn an X-ray room in the ER into another treatment room, which would give it 24 treatment rooms. That is not enough, he said, and there still will need to be an investment in expansion. Welch said he would just like some guidance from the state about whether that will ever be a possibility in Columbia County.

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Little Lamb
44874
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Little Lamb 04/18/13 - 02:29 pm
1
2
Nitpicky

From the story:

Doctors Hospital is dropping its appeal of the state’s denial for permission to build a free-standing Emergency Department in Columbia County. But CEO Doug Welch said the concept, which has never been allowed in Georgia, is a good one that other states have embraced and the hospital will work on presenting the case for them to state officials. Both Doctors and University Hospital had presented very similar proposals to build a free-standing ER in Columbia County, the state’s largest county without one.

If Georgia has never allowed a free-standing ER anywhere in the state, then Columbia County cannot be the largest county without one.

my.voice
4702
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my.voice 04/18/13 - 02:43 pm
2
0
It is if they are the largest

It is if they are the largest county :)

Little Lamb
44874
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Little Lamb 04/18/13 - 03:00 pm
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Good Point

Good point, my.voice. Here's how I should have worded it:

Since Georgia has never allowed a free-standing emergency room facility anywhere in the state, and since Columbia County is not the largest county in the state (by population or by area); therefore Columbia County cannot be the largest county without a free-standing emergency room facility.

Little Lamb
44874
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Little Lamb 04/18/13 - 03:01 pm
2
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Fulton

For completeness — Fulton County would be the largest population county in Georgia without a free-standing emergency room facility.

my.voice
4702
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my.voice 04/18/13 - 03:55 pm
3
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You're implying the writer is

You're implying the writer is supposed to think about what he's saying.

nycweeks
41
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nycweeks 04/18/13 - 04:08 pm
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0
Largest county without an ER

Columbia County IS the largest county in Georgia that has no ER.

Little Lamb
44874
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Little Lamb 04/18/13 - 04:23 pm
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Free Standing

But it's not the largest county without a free-standing ER.

But let's face it; if you live in east Columbia County, an ambulance driver can have you at any of the four Richmond County ERs in ten to twenty minutes from the time they leave your driveway. That's better than most folks in the state.

Little Lamb
44874
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Little Lamb 04/18/13 - 04:31 pm
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Proper Applicatioin

Doctors Hospital CEO Doug Welch said:

. . . he would just like some guidance from the state about whether that will ever be a possibility in Columbia County.

If he would make a proper application that serves the underserved, he might have a chance. To build an ER on Belair Rd. in the heart of Evans, only five minutes away from the current Doctors Hospital, is ridiculous. Now if they would build a general hospital with an ER in the western part of the county to serve Columbia, McDuffie, Lincoln, Wilkes, and Warren; he would be approved in a New York minute.

Dixieman
13866
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Dixieman 04/18/13 - 05:20 pm
6
1
I don't understand

why entrepreneurs need government permission to open a facility. Let them build and operate it. If it succeeds or fails should be up to their skill and efforts, not some bureaucrats making decisions for them - and us!

countyman
19527
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countyman 04/18/13 - 05:28 pm
3
0
ER

The Augusta Exchange area of West Augusta is not located 5 minutes away from the heart of Evans.

I do get the point you're trying to make, but in terms of Columbia County the money is located in Evans. Grovetown is growing, but I don't see the upper middle class population enough. For example the city will be getting another IGA(KJ Market).

The same reason why Doctors Hospital selected Evans is the same reason their campus is located in West Augusta.

I would also mention South Belair(Martinez) and North Belair(Evans) are located in Columbia County. Belair rd is located in Richmond County between Wrightsboro/Powell.

Little Lamb
44874
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Little Lamb 04/18/13 - 10:31 pm
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1
Money

Yes, countyman, the money is located in Evans, but the hospitals have to be located where there is a need for services. Evans is close to four emergency rooms. Doctors Hospital needs to locate any proposed new emergency room in a location that is underserved. Of course, that's not the way of free enterprise, but then medicine and these "certificate of needs boards" are governmental entities. They've got rules they have to follow. Doctors Hospital knows that.

When Obamacare kicks in in 2014, it will only get worse.

Riverman1
81371
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Riverman1 04/19/13 - 04:27 am
2
1
University Hospital already

University Hospital already has the huge buildings with the clinics in Evans for convenience. But since we are talking emergencies it is much better to be sent to an ER that has a hospital with operating rooms, cardiology and other facilities. I agree that a "free standing ER" is not needed or a good idea for Columbia County.

Little Lamb
44874
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Little Lamb 04/19/13 - 12:01 pm
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Free Falling

I am woefully ignorant of medical matters; but apparently the upcoming reimbursement rates for emergency room charges under Obamacare are larger than the reimbursement rates for prompt care clinics. So Doctors Hospital and University Hospital were just trying to game the upcoming Obamacare reimbursement rates by setting up a prompt care and calling it a free-standing emergency room.

Now it comes to light.

You are welcome.

batya
280
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batya 04/19/13 - 03:48 pm
0
0
Before a hospital goes

Before a hospital goes spending that much money on something, how about properly staff the hospital you have! If you can't afford more nurses or techs, how can you afford this??

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