11 residents to review hospital bids

A citizen committee will help narrow selection of a partner to build a new hospital in Columbia County, said Ron Cross, the chairman of the Columbia County Commission.

The names will be released at Tuesday’s commission meeting. Though there will be a couple of people with medical backgrounds, Cross was clear about what the commission did not want on the committee.

“There are no politicians,” he said. “(And) no lawyers, we don’t want to drag it out forever.”

Instead, the committee is “mostly citizens in the community that have had an active interest in Columbia County,” Cross said.

The committee will review proposals submitted by Doctors Hospital, Georgia Regents Health System and University Hospital to build at least a 100-bed hospital with a trauma unit. Doctors has proposed a $150 million, 108-bed hospital and a medical office building; Georgia Regents, a $280 million to $310 million health campus that would include a 144-bed hospital; and University, a 100-bed hospital that would cost between $130 million and $140 million. The committee will meet with the bidders and review the proposals and come up with a selection “hopefully within a 30-day period,” Cross said.

The county would then work with the selected partner on submitting a proposal for the necessary certificate of need required to build a hospital in Georgia. Because of the proximity of a large number of beds in hospitals in Augusta and failed efforts last year to demonstrate the need for new facilities, the county and its partner hope to rely on one of three untested exceptions to the need standard: that the new facility is part of an existing teaching hospital; or it is part of an existing trauma center; or the county is paying 20 percent of the cost of construction.

All of the bids rely on one or more of those exceptions.

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