University's Aiken plan rejected

Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009 1:57 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 9:22 PM
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AIKEN - Aiken City Council voted Monday night against University Hospital's plans to build a medical office complex on Silver Bluff Road, citing traffic and neighborhood concerns.

After a 20-minute executive session and a nearly three-hour public hearing in which the majority of the standing-room only audience spoke in opposition, council members unanimously voted against the proposed concept plan - a 72,000-square-foot complex across from Centre South Shopping Center.

Kay Brierman Brohl, a board member with Aiken Regional Medical Center, told council members that she was concerned about the economic impact the office building would have on the community.

"Doctors in the proposed complex will be sending patients across the river to another hospital," she said. "It will severely impact our ability to recruit quality doctors."

Andy Lasser, executive vice president of University Hospital, said 20 percent of its patients come from Aiken County.

"We decided we needed to serve our patients in Aiken County," he said.

The concept plan for the facility called for the leasing of office space to any doctor who was interested and possibly space for imaging and lab - not surgical space or an emergency room.

"It's not likely we will add ER services," Dr. Lasser said. "It's not in our plans."

However, those who opposed the office building - most of whom were affiliated with Aiken Regional - were not swayed by Dr. Lasser's assurances that University Hospital's plan would not be detrimental to Aiken Regional or the community.

"The long term viability of this hospital is at risk," said Sam Kelly, a board member with Aiken Regional

Not all who spoke were against University Hospital's plans.

Beth Posey Powell, of Graniteville, said she drives all the way to Evans to see her doctor and was in favor of the medical complex.

Ms. Powell said she supports Aiken, preferring to shop locally, but "when it comes to health care people should have a choice."

Dr. Lasser praised CEO K.D. Justyn's efforts over the past seven years to make Aiken Regional a first class hospital, saying that the facility University is proposing would not hurt Aiken Regional.

Dr. Lasser also said he hoped that one day everyone would stop thinking in terms of "us and them across the river."

"I think of us as being in one large community," he said. "What we think we are proposing is a way to improve health care in the community."

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or

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Nothing else to say
Nothing else to say 01/27/09 - 03:21 pm
Put it in Beech

Put it in Beech Island!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CallMeOpinionated 01/27/09 - 03:26 pm
This is so stupid! They can

This is so stupid! They can vote to throw up every kinda restaurant and shop without traffic or neighborhood concerns but let it be a health clinic or care center to bring some competition in that area and its "forbidden". THIS sort of behavior is what has me thinking of moving "across the river" and out of Aiken and Aiken County for good. RIDICULOUS!

curly123053 01/27/09 - 06:47 pm
Aiken Regional needs

Aiken Regional needs competition and some of the doctors doing business there are not certainly worth talking about. If Aiken City Council's only concern was competition for Aiken Regional then they really messed up as we are supposed to live in a free market. University Health should be allowed to build a facility since it will be improving healt services for the Aiken area. As far as you moving out of Aiken and Aiken County I would reconsider that. Richmond County's government is far inferior as a whole than anything Aiken City or Aiken County governments have done.

KSL 01/27/09 - 07:34 pm
I have mixed feelings. Our

I have mixed feelings. Our whole health care system is in need of competition. Health insurance and Medicare/Medicaid have impacted competition. My husband and I have huge deductibles and an HSA, so we "shop" our health care, but the majority of people do not. For most people, if the doctor prescribes some test or treatment and tells them who to see, it is not questioned. We have learned to question and to price shop and have been able to receive the best in medical care for the least amount of money.

Batman 01/27/09 - 11:09 pm
THIS is one reason we're

THIS is one reason we're moving from N Aug to Evans after being here 9 yrs. Stupid Aiken Co wants to be Mayberry. The Aug Exchange shopping ctr @ Wheeler Rd/Bobby Jones WAS planned for I20 exit 1 in NA until the rednecks in my county shot it down for "traffic" issues. Could have made $millions.

GGpap 01/27/09 - 11:37 pm
I we (my wife and I) moved to

I we (my wife and I) moved to Aiken 12 years ago, moved to Barnwell County soon thereafter. We used Aiken medical servcies (Doctors, Labs, Hospital) for our 1st two years in SC and have been traveling to Augusta for almost every medical need in the past 10 years. That should speak tons as to what we think of Aiken's doctors and medical services. GGpap

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