Columbia County pursuing a hospital

Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 5:37 PM
Last updated Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 7:29 AM
  • Follow Latest News

Columbia County is once more pursuing a long-held dream of its own health care facility and is hoping one of three Augusta hospitals will partner with it to make it happen.

While the state’s Certificate of Need law has prevented the county from getting a hospital or even a free-standing Emergency Department in the past, County Commission Chairman Ron Cross said there are a couple of exceptions written into the law that might be exploited.

Columbia is the state’s largest county without a hospital or emergency facilities. Despite that, the state earlier this year barred University and Doctors hospitals from pursuing rival proposals to place a free-standing ER there. The Georgia Department of Community Health denied the Certificate of Need because it said there were already adequate emergency services in Augusta to serve Columbia County and the proposals failed to demonstrate the need for more.

There might be exceptions in the law that could help the county get a hospital, Cross said. The law says the department “may allow an exception” if “the facility is an existing teaching hospital,” or if “the facility is a sole community provider” and the county puts up more than 20 percent of the cost.

The county has a request for proposals, due Jan. 10, for a “new institutional health services facility to serve as Columbia County’s sole community provider.” Cross said that would be a 100-bed full-service hospital with a trauma unit. Jim Davis, the CEO of University Hospital, said the cost of that would likely be around $150 million. Cross said Columbia County will have another special purpose local option sales tax in 2014 that could fit the bill.

University, Doctors and Georgia Regents University and its health system all have had talks with the county about a possible facility, Cross said.

“They’ve all got advantages,” he said. “Honestly, I’d love to have all three of them, but it is just not going to work out that way.”

Davis said University’s board would discuss putting forth a proposal at its meeting next week. He said there could be a number of ways it would be attractive to University.

“Our ER is full most of the time and for that matter today our hospital is full as well,” Davis said. “They are wall to wall upstairs at the moment. Having another presence out there would provide us more capacity to take care of people in Columbia County. It would also allow us to forgo some capital investment in our facility downtown in an effort to invest in a facility out in Columbia County that would bring care closer to the citizens of Columbia County, which they obviously feel they need.”

GRU acknowledged that it had received the request for proposal.

“We’ll give the request due diligence and explore the opportunities that are associated with this potential project and its fit with the strategic plan and vision of our enterprise,” health system spokeswoman Denise Parrish said in a statement.

Doctors said it is also evaluating the request.

“Serving the healthcare needs of Columbia County remains a top priority for Doctors Hospital, as the majority of its residents receive care at our facility,” spokeswoman Lindsay Thetford said in a statement.

Even after Columbia County selects a partner, it could be months before a proposal goes up to the state, Cross said.

“It’s a long way from a done deal, but it’s something that has been on my mind for five or six years,” he said.

It is unclear how the state will respond, Cross said, because the county is entering uncharted waters.

“The funny thing about these exceptions is that none of them have ever been tried,” he said.

Finally getting its own facility, however, would be just as important to the county as other improvements in recent years, such as upgrading fire protection, the courthouse and library, Cross said.

“I think this ranks right up there with something that the county needs, particularly with our amount of growth,” he said.

Comments (19) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Common.sense
465
Points
Common.sense 12/11/13 - 07:55 pm
5
1
How about whichever facility

How about whichever facility will foot the entire bill without any assistance from tax payers money can build there?

Riverman1
82451
Points
Riverman1 12/11/13 - 07:57 pm
7
5
Just Move to Columbia County

I wonder if Doctors would consider moving, lock stock and barrel to Columbia County?

Common.sense
465
Points
Common.sense 12/11/13 - 08:14 pm
6
1
Considering the amount of

Considering the amount of money they spent remodeling I doubt they would do that.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 12/11/13 - 08:39 pm
0
0
I'm sure most of the local
Unpublished

I'm sure most of the local physicians already live in Columbia County.. no brainer there

jbartley
535
Points
jbartley 12/11/13 - 10:25 pm
1
2
sounds to good to be true

Only 150 Million Columbia county has to give to a hospital to come here, what a deal!

getitright84
305
Points
getitright84 12/11/13 - 10:32 pm
2
2
Where've you been?

This is 2 week old news.

LeConteSkier
503
Points
LeConteSkier 12/11/13 - 11:56 pm
4
3
If Trinity wants to survive they should move there

Trinity could consider modernizing and relocate to Columbia County. The Appling Harlem exit would be a great location since it would accommodate future growth since that will be the Grovetown of 2017.

What-A-Joke
7
Points
What-A-Joke 12/12/13 - 01:45 am
4
1
Tax $$$$

The only hospital that will do it tax free or without financial assistance is Doctors Hospital. University and GRU will both want tax dollars to help. Also, University and GRU will want to be tax-exempt, therefore paying no taxes. Doctors Hospital would pay taxes and provide an additional source of revenue for the county. Ron Cross and the County are smart then they will partner with Doctors Hospital. Being a resident of Columbia County, I would love to hear the county officials explain how they want to help build something with tax dollars then collect no taxes from the project.

Bodhisattva
6019
Points
Bodhisattva 12/12/13 - 07:06 am
1
3
A 100 bed hospital with a

A 100 bed hospital with a trauma unit? I take it he means a level lll trauma center and a helipad to get them to GRU. Would the law require anything west to stop at the nearest trauma center, even if a few more minutes of driving would have you at a level l center? It would be a guaranteed source of millions in income, even if unnecessary even harmful, to many of the patients. There's no way a 100 bed hospital would have a 24 hour staff of ortho, neuro, vascular, etc. specialists on hand.

seenitB4
85836
Points
seenitB4 12/12/13 - 07:15 am
4
4
Sooner or later

This is coming one day...the sooner the better.

Your life could be saved because it is closer...build it!

nocnoc
41486
Points
nocnoc 12/12/13 - 09:29 am
1
3
Columbia County pursuing a hospital

Is it a High Speed Pursuit? or a OJ Political slow pursuit?
Fun with Headlines

Seriously it has been needed for some time considering the growth of Columbia Co. it would reduce critical transportation times and reduce crowding we are seeing now.

Besides, all of those "former ARC" residents deserve a Hospital.

GuyGene
1247
Points
GuyGene 12/12/13 - 10:03 am
0
1
Largest county in GA with no hospital...

Yep, we need a hospital in Columbia County. I sure hope they get this done - I might not have enough time to wait much longer...

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 12/12/13 - 10:07 am
0
0
More asphalt and concrete for the contractors & XX Cross
Unpublished

More asphalt and concrete for the contractors & XX Cross

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 12/12/13 - 10:08 am
0
0
pure CC politics with the taxpayers footing the bills.
Unpublished

pure CC politics with the taxpayers footing the bills.

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 12/12/13 - 10:10 am
0
0
How many CC residents have died due to facility access? That
Unpublished

would be an interesting data FACT. We are one of the most "hospitalized places" in GA. The more medical facilities to higher the cost. FACT

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 12/12/13 - 10:11 am
0
0
Just because we don't have one, does not mean we need one.
Unpublished

Just because we don't have one, does not mean we need one.

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 12/12/13 - 10:12 am
0
0
Surrounding counties are struggling to finance local hospitals.
Unpublished

Surrounding counties are struggling to finance local hospitals.

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 12/12/13 - 10:13 am
1
0
Hospitals are advertising on TV. They must need $$, not rooms.
Unpublished

You think. Follow the MONEY. Follow the concrete trucks.

deestafford
26627
Points
deestafford 12/12/13 - 10:24 am
0
1
I don't really understand...

I don't really understand why the state has to get involved. Is this some more special interest at the state level such as why cosmetologists have to have so many hours of training in order to braid hair?

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 12/12/13 - 10:39 am
0
1
Lotta available land. Lotta

Lotta available land. Lotta potential "deals". This may actually happen.

Tom Corwin
9274
Points
Tom Corwin 12/12/13 - 12:14 pm
0
0
Common Sense

The exception written into the law requires "more than twenty percent (20%) of the capital cost of any new, replacement or expanded facility is financed by the county governing authority" so the county would have to finance it to make it happen, if that is the exception Columbia County is going to pursue.

Marinerman1
4673
Points
Marinerman1 12/12/13 - 01:28 pm
1
0
Beat Me to Line, Tom

I was going to respond to 'Common.sense' about his statement, but you beat me to the punch, Tom. This was brought up about a month ago by a friend of ours during dinner. Floored me. People need to remember that Doctors' is 'for profit', meaning you can show up to the ER, but without insurance or a good checkbook, you'll be stabilized and then shipped to MCG or University. Where Town Center is located, that WAS where the Columbia County hospital was supposed to be built. The Commission meetings in the future, might be even more exciting than they have been lately...

Common.sense
465
Points
Common.sense 12/12/13 - 01:35 pm
0
1
That law should be repealed.

That law should be repealed.

Bizkit
30906
Points
Bizkit 12/12/13 - 03:02 pm
0
1
So GRU can expand to Lake

So GRU can expand to Lake Oconee and surrounding "nearby areas" but not Columbia county. I can see stopping GRU but a private hospital seems could build one where ever they wanted.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 12/12/13 - 05:09 pm
2
1
There is a degree of

There is a degree of animosity toward CC by the ARC posters. It wouldn't be the poorest plan in the world to take care of our own hospital needs. Not imperative but why patronize an organization in a county that loathes us at times?

seenitB4
85836
Points
seenitB4 12/12/13 - 06:34 pm
1
0
I noticed that too parker

"There is a degree of animosity toward CC by the ARC posters"

I am glad we have 2 choices of hospitals near us in this county..it does make a difference..

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs