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Hearing over new South Hall hospital beds postponed

POSTED: September 7, 2008 5:01 a.m.

A court hearing scheduled for today over a proposal to build a 100-bed hospital in Braselton has been postponed.

Arguments in the case of Barrow Regional Medical Center versus Northeast Georgia Health System were to be heard by Chief Superior Court Judge Robert Adamson. The hearing was postponed due to a death in the judge’s family, an administrative assistant said Wednesday.

The suit claims that the Georgia Department of Community Health should deny approval of the new hospital because Northeast Georgia originally asked for replacement beds, transferring some of the system’s total patient capacity from the Gainesville hospital, then changed its application to request new beds.

Northeast Georgia officials have not explained why, if the goal of the new Braselton hospital is to serve the needs of the area’s growing population, they didn’t ask for new beds in the first place instead of initially applying for replacement beds.

But as far as Community Health is concerned, it doesn’t matter. Dena Brummer, spokeswoman for the state agency, said applicants do have the right to change their minds.

"The (certificate of need) rules provide for the amendment of an application, and it is fairly routine," she said.

Northeast Georgia Health System officials have denied allegations that they did not follow Georgia’s certificate-of-need rules when applying to build a new hospital in Braselton.

The hospital’s application has been approved repeatedly by Community Health officials. Barrow Regional filed an appeal with a hearing officer in December and with a review board in February. In both cases, Northeast Georgia’s application was upheld. Barrow’s lawsuit, filed in April on the last day of the appeals period, was the last legal avenue to prevent Northeast Georgia from moving forward with its plans.

No court date for the case has been rescheduled.



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