Presbyterian Healthcare wants DHEC to review Fort Mill hospital decision

dworthington@heraldonline.comOctober 13, 2012 

Presbyterian Healthcare is asking the state’s Administrative Law Court to send the certificate-of-need review for a Fort Mill hospital back to the Department of Health and Environmental Control for another look.

According to a statement from Presbyterian, the hospital’s motion for summary judgment contends DHEC violated provisions of state law, its own regulations, as well a mandate of a previous Administrative Law Court decision, when it awarded the certificate of need to Carolinas HealthCare System on Sept. 9, 2011.

An Administrative Law Court judge will consider the motion for summary judgment at an Oct. 22 hearing.

The motion is the latest in a series of actions that started in 2006 when Presbyterian and Carolinas HealthCare System challenged regulators’ choice of Piedmont Medical Center to build a Fort Mill Hospital. Discussions on where to build a hospital to serve a growing northern York County population date to 1999.

In 2009, an administrative law judge ordered the process be restarted, ruling DHEC had misinterpreted the state’s health plan in making its decision.

That decision set off another heated competition for the Fort Mill hospital that played out during many public meetings, on billboards along Interstate 77, and in thousands of letters of support for each applicant in 2011 and 2012.

Shortly after the September 2011 decision, Presbyterian and Piedmont filed appeals with DHEC’s board. The hospitals said DHEC staff made multiple errors in granting the right to build the hospital to Carolinas HealthCare System, which operates Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and several satellite centers in the region.

Both Presbyterian and Piedmont asked DHEC's board to overturn its staff's decision and award them the certificate of need. If the decision was not overturned, Presbyterian asked the board to send the process back to the DHEC staff for more review.

Their appeals were denied and the hospitals took the next legal step, appealing DHEC’s decision to the Administrative Law Court. Feb. 4, 2013, has been set as a trial date for the appeals. According to a consent scheduling order, April 15, 2013, is the latest the court will release its decision.

Carolinas HealthCare System said in a statement Friday the review process was proper and fair to all three applicants.

Officials with Piedmont Medical Center could not be reached for comment.

The cost to build a new hospital is in the millions, but whoever finally gets to proceed will shape health care in York County for years to come.

Carolinas HealthCare System’s plans call for a $77.5 million, 64-bed hospital at the intersection of Sutton Road and Interstate 77. Presbyterian’s proposed location was also off Sutton Road. Piedmont’s proposed location was at the intersection of S.C. 160 and U.S. 21.

Don Worthington 803-329-4066

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