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University bidding to build hospital in Evans

Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 4:39 PM
Last updated Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 12:57 AM
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University Hospital’s board voted Thursday to pursue a proposal to build a $150 million hospital in Columbia County and CEO Jim Davis believes the health care system has some advantages over other potential suitors.

“We have a large investment already in our Evans campus with two large physician office buildings, an urgent care center and a couple of small physician offices as well,” he said. “We actually have blueprints to expand that campus into a 100-bed hospital that have been there since 2007.”

Much has changed in health care since then, particularly in how patients use the hospital and how the hospital is paid for services, so those plans would have to be revised, Davis said.

University and Doctors Hospital were shot down earlier this year on similar but competing proposals to build a free-standing Emergency Department in Columbia County, the state’s largest county without a hospital. The Georgia Department of Community Health ruled there were adequate resources in Augusta to serve the county and the proposals failed to demonstrate the need to add more and denied the necessary Certificate of Need.

But Columbia County officials are looking at exceptions that could still land them a CON to build a hospital and one of them would be if the county pays for 20 percent of the cost.

Commission Chairman Ron Cross said they are looking at a 100-bed full-service hospital with a trauma unit and Davis said the estimate for that would be about $150 million, which would obligate the county for $30 million.

Columbia County has also talked with Doctors Hospital about submitting a proposal and they are “relatively sure” they will, Cross said. The county has talked with Georgia Regents University and its health system and feel a proposal will be forthcoming from them, he said. Davis said he has heard that entities outside the Augusta area might be interested but Cross said he has only heard from the three Augusta providers.

The proposals are due Jan. 10, after which the county will pick a partner and put together a proposal. Neither of the two possible exceptions in the CON law have been used before and there is a lot of interest from the DCH board and its commissioner to see what the proposal will be, Cross said.

“They’ve encouraged us to go ahead and get a partner and send it on in,” he said. “That’s not necessarily a positive or a negative. They stressed very much that nothing had ever been submitted with those exceptions and they really didn’t know how they would view it.”

However the county picks, there will almost certainly be a challenge from other parties, Davis said.

“Whoever doesn’t get it is going to challenge and we might have challenges from outside the market as well because there are a lot of people who are a little nervous about someone building a new hospital,” he said. “We’re hearing rumblings of that already.”

Because of the uncharted nature of the proposal and the likelihood of challenges and appeals, whomever is chosen might not get to break ground until 2015, Davis said.

The proposal is “the first step in what I consider a marathon event,” he said.

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/19/13 - 05:59 pm
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It seems like Doctors is the

It seems like Doctors is the best fit because University and MCG have ties to Richmond County they can't get out of. Doctors could gradually move everything to Columbia County over the coming years after an initial opening in CC.

pja5529
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pja5529 12/19/13 - 06:22 pm
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Doctors

While I could see them opening up a branch in CC, I don't see the point of moving the whole hospital. It's in a good spot at 520 and 20 so I doubt they would want to lose that accessibility.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/19/13 - 06:36 pm
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Why stop at 100 beds?

Why stop at $150 million? If county taxpayers are going to be on the hook for 20%, University would be foolish to go small potatoes.

Go whole hog!

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 12/19/13 - 06:36 pm
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pja, going along your

pja, going along your thinking, the scenario that I could see is the hospital moving, but the original location could expand it's burn/wound mission to involve more of the building. I think Fred Mullins would jump at the chance of that becoming HIS hospital, where he could expand the services of JMS Burn Center. He's already got several locations throughout the southeast, including Miami. And I've heard he's got even more plans to spread. The Augusta location could be the hub for him, and become more of a location for special procedures.
Whichever way this whole thing goes, it sounds like it'll be good for the area.

Riverman1
79035
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Riverman1 12/20/13 - 06:08 am
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Columbia County demographics

Columbia County demographics are gold for a hospital to mine. I imagine there's going to be lots of competition from hospitals near and far. The county shouldn't have to pay anything.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 12/20/13 - 07:17 am
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More political BS. More graft, concrete & asphalt. Unnecessary.
Unpublished

More political BS. More graft, concrete & asphalt. Unnecessary.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 12/20/13 - 07:19 am
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Politicians & construction companies keep each other happy. FACT
Unpublished

Politicians & construction companies keep each other happy. FACT

soapy_725
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soapy_725 12/20/13 - 07:20 am
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UH said last year it needed more surgeries and repeat surguries
Unpublished

in order to stay in the "black". Then they built a new hospital in Thomson and now Evans.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 12/20/13 - 07:21 am
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Wonder which Evans bank will finance this project? And the next.
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Wonder which Evans bank will finance this project? And the next.

soapy_725
43551
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soapy_725 12/20/13 - 07:23 am
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Socialized medicine and new hospitals don't mix. What's up?
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Socialized medicine and new hospitals don't mix. What's up?

soapy_725
43551
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soapy_725 12/20/13 - 07:23 am
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New construction for the sake of construction $$$. Pure & simple
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New construction for the sake of construction $$$. Pure & simple

Truth Matters
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Truth Matters 12/20/13 - 11:08 am
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A new hospital! I guess

A new hospital! I guess doctors aren't leaving the medical profession after all and that is good news.

Tom Corwin
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Tom Corwin 12/20/13 - 01:43 pm
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Riverman

You might have missed this in the story but the state has already ruled that there is not a need for these facilities in Columbia County. The county is going to try to get around the need requirement by using an exception, one of which is that the county pays 20 percent of the cost. So the county has to put in that money in order to qualify for the exception, regardless of the competition to partner with it. Another exception, however, is if it is part of "an existing teaching hospital." That might bring Georgia Regents University and its health system into play, depending on how that is defined. Neither exception has been utilized before so these are uncharted waters.

GACopprhed
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GACopprhed 12/20/13 - 01:50 pm
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OMG!!! Where will we get the
Unpublished

OMG!!! Where will we get the doctors to work there!!!??? There's not enough doctors! OMG!!!!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/20/13 - 03:25 pm
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Tom, Wasn't That For an Emergency Facility Only?

Tom, wasn't the previous denial of a CON for a free standing emergency room only and not a hospital?

Tom Corwin
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Tom Corwin 12/20/13 - 04:15 pm
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Riverman

Yes, the denial was for a free-standing Emergency Department but in the decision the state talked about the surplus of emergency services and hospitals adjoining Columbia County and was not swayed by arguments of a rapidly growing population there. I think the emergency services argument would be a lower standard to meet than trying to argue the need for a full-service hospital, which is why I think Doctors and University made that pitch and were still unsuccessful.

Riverman1
79035
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Riverman1 12/20/13 - 05:26 pm
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Maybe

Maybe that's the case, but it could be that the free standing ER is such a special facility that it would be disapproved before a hospital would be. The whole issue of free standing ERs is a controversial concept and much different than seeking a CON for a hospital. A free standing ER would be problematic without cardiology or surgical back-up. Have they been approved anywhere in GA or SC? We should differentiate between hospitals and ERs. We will see how this plays out, I guess.

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