Barrow Medical Center has asked the Georgia Court of Appeals to reject Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s petition to appeal a Barrow County Superior Court judge’s ruling denying a new hospital in Braselton.
The two hospitals are locked in a battle over Northeast Georgia’s proposed application that was filed more than two years ago.
The Winder hospital also responded to a similar petition by the Georgia Department of Community Health. Both documents were filed Monday.
Barrow contends that a new hospital just 11 miles away is unfair competition and could result in financial ruin.
In the Winder hospital’s response, former Attorney General Michael Bowers argues that the Court of Appeals lacks jurisdiction and the grounds are without merit.
"This order is not an appealable final judgement because it remands consideration of the issues involved to DCH ‘for consideration as a new application with adequate statutory time to be given to all parties,’" Bowers wrote in the response.
Bowers argues that Barrow Medical already is struggling financially and that the new South Hall hospital would keep it from breaking even. He said currently the hospital needs 200 admissions per month to break even. It is presently admitting 152.
He accuses the state of rushing the certificate of need process in violation of its own rules.
"DCH ‘guessed’ and ‘assumed’ regarding the adverse impact analysis and permitted Northeast Georgia to rush through its ‘amended’ (certificate of need) application without the actual situation required," he wrote.
Unlike in previous stages in the case, Northeast Georgia does not have an automatic right to appeal in the case. Under state law, it filed a petition for a discretionary appeal, essentially asking the appeals court to hear the case. If granted, a direct appeal of the case would be heard by a panel of appellate judges. Monday’s response is in opposition to the discretionary appeal.
The original petition was to transfer 100 beds from the hospital’s Lanier Park campus to the proposed new facility in Braselton. In April 2007, Northeast Georgia amended its application for a completely new facility. The state granted the certificate of need on April 27, 2007.
The health system plans to move the current Lanier Park capacity to its main campus on Spring Street when the North Patient Tower is completed in April. Northeast Georgia officials said appeals of the application were anticipated and they are hopeful the process will not delay the planned start of construction in 2010.