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Barrow hospital asks top court for review

Appellate court ruled in favor of new medical center

POSTED: March 30, 2010 11:16 p.m.

The chief executive of Northeast Georgia Medical Center said Tuesday he was disappointed that Barrow Regional Medical Center is asking for a state Supreme Court review of a Court of Appeals decision that paved the way for a hospital in South Hall.

The Barrow County hospital filed a notice of intent Monday to ask the state’s top court to hear the case in hopes of having the original ruling to block a 100-bed hospital in Braselton reinstated.

“The approval has already been upheld through three appeal processes, and we believe the need for a new hospital is even greater now than when we filed the initial application in 2006,” Jim Gardner, president and CEO of Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said in a statement.

The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled March 23 that Northeast Georgia Medical Center can build a new South Hall hospital in Braselton, a facility that could serve 100 acute care patients and employ nearly 600 people.

The court’s decision to reinstate state certification needed to build the facility reversed a December 2008 ruling by Barrow County Superior Court Judge Robert Adamson, who ruled in favor of Barrow Regional when that hospital filed suit to prevent the new facility from being built.

“We disagree with the Georgia Court of Appeals decision, and we stand behind the decision Judge Adamson made in Superior Court,” said Blake Watts, CEO of Barrow Regional, in calling for the Supreme Court review.

Gardner said that while Barrow’s decision is disappointing, the medical center won’t stop working to bring a hospital and other medical services to the Braselton area.

“In the meantime, we continue to further develop the wide array of health care services currently provided at the Medical Plaza 1, the cornerstone of our future hospital campus,” he said.

Officials with the Winder hospital sued because they believed the new medical facility would take patients away from their 56-bed site on Ga. 53, located about 11 miles from the proposed site of the new hospital. The proposal presented unfair competition and could result in financial ruin for the local hospital, Watts said.

Adamson ruled in favor of Barrow Regional in December 2008, noting the Department of Community Health had not fully considered whether 100 new beds would be cost effective and not “unnecessarily duplicative” of health care services for the region.

But the three-judge Appeals Court panel ruled the Department of Community Health “had a rational basis for granting NGMC’s application for a certificate of need for the proposed South Hall hospital” and reinstated the certificate of need.

Staff writer Stephen Gurr and regional reporter LeAnn Akin contributed to this report.



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