WellStar appeals Northside’s plans
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@mdjonline.com
March 21, 2012 12:39 AM | 3900 views | 10 10 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — WellStar Health System is appealing a decision that would allow Northside Hospital to move ahead with plans to build a replacement facility in Canton.

The Marietta-based company has filed a request for an agency review hearing with the Georgia Department of Community Health to challenge Northside Hospital’s proposal to replace its 84-bed facility on Hospital Road with a new facility on a 100-acre tract behind Canton Marketplace.

WellStar officials said the filing is the final step in getting the department to consider their request.

“WellStar believes the hearing officer erred in granting Northside an exemption for a Certificate of Need (CON) to relocate Northside Hospital-Cherokee because Northside has failed to offer sufficient proof that it will not expand services at the new hospital,” Spokesman Keith Bowermaster said. “The size and scope of the project indicate that, once completed, the new facility will greatly expand the services currently provided at Northside Hospital-Cherokee.”

If the request is denied, Bowermaster said the company could file an appeal in court.

A department hearing officer ruled in February that Northside did not need a certificate of need to move forward with its plans, striking down WellStar’s contention.

Northside Spokesman Russ Davis said WellStar continues to make the same “frivolous arguments” in its opposition to their plans.

“Their arguments are baseless and are clearly a continued attempt to delay the project,” Davis said. “WellStar simply does not want the competition.”

Department of Community Health spokeswoman Pamela Keene said Department of Community Health Commissioner David Cook or his designee will review WellStar’s request, but didn’t say when he would decide if it would go forward.

Northside originally filed a letter of determination with the Georgia Department of Community Health in early August to replace its current hospital, arguing it didn’t need a certificate of need because they planned to relocate within a three-mile radius and not expand health services.

WellStar filed a formal objection to Northside’s CON exemption request in September, but its objection was rejected by the state Department of Community Health in October.

It filed another appeal in November, which was the request that was rejected last month.

Chris Kane, senior vice president of strategic business development with WellStar, said the company is not opposed to the project per se, but the company maintains Northside should not have been granted an exemption as they allege the company has not been upfront about its plans.

“WellStar, other health care providers and the citizens of Cherokee County are entitled to obtain factual information necessary to assess Northside’s plans,” Kane said “As of now, Northside has offered only undocumented and unsupported contentions regarding the new facility’s compliance with the CON relocation exemption requirements and has refused to provide WellStar or DCH with the facts.”

Davis disputed Kane’s assessment, adding the hospital has “been fully candid about our plans at the new site.”

“WellStar’s claims that Northside failed to provide necessary information are completely baseless and were rejected twice already,” he added.

While there are future plans to build other medical facilities on the site, Northside officials contend the relocation is solely needed to replace its current 84-bed hospital.

Along with the new 84-bed hospital, the campus will eventually include a women’s center, a multi-specialty medical office building and cancer center, a parking deck with 600 parking spots and a 300-spot surface parking lot.

The project is expected to cost about $250 million and the hospital is expected to open by March 2015.
Comments
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local patient
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March 24, 2012
Maybe some competition will make the patient matter again to WellStar.
Cobb Native
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March 22, 2012
Free market forces should decide. If Northside can build a Hospital and make money they should be able to. WellStar should not be able to have the government prevent competition. Just wait until ObamaCare takes over and decides who can do what with healthcare. It is bad enough now.
Cobb Patient
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March 21, 2012
As a long term resident and one who has used the Wellstar facilities, last year I learned of the problems with an organization that controls the hospitals and most of the doctors in the area. Since they had not reached an agreement with my insurance providers it would have been very expensive to use their services. The result was travel to Atlanta to have the required surgery. This resulted in much travel for me and the family. Hospitals should now own the doctors.
Kennesaw Resident
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March 21, 2012
More competition is certainly better for the patients. Let the market decide - Northside should get to build their facility.
Rules Matter
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March 21, 2012
The Certificate of Need CON process is what it is. Hospitals should abide by this as these rules are not laid out to thwart competition but to ensure we do not have hospitals and medical facilities croping up everywhere when their is no market to sustain it.
Why fight this?
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March 21, 2012
SO, WellStar is picking a technicality, trying to spin it that it is the community who is entitled to the information...what? The community doesn't care what services they offer--the community will benefit from a new hospital, with new technology. That's all we need to know. If you truly believe in life well lived, then you'd not be afraid of a little competition to getting us all healthy.
Concerned Again
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March 21, 2012
Wellstar should stay out of the Piedmont (Canton) hospital plans. Wellstar already has a monopoly in Cobb, Paulding and Douglas counties. Fees are alread climbing as a result. How about a little honest conpetition? Fees double and triple every time a doctors group sells out to Wellstar. Non-profit? Really?
santagirl
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March 21, 2012
to concerned again: the issue is with the Northside hospital not Piedmont, they have no hospitals in Canton. can see you are really paying attention :(
Concerned Again
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March 22, 2012
Okay, just wishful thinking, substituting Piedmont for Northside. We could use both actually. Wellstar still has a monopoly. That is just wrong.
Old Harold
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March 21, 2012
Let the market sort it out. It seems our local hero WellStar is not above judicial activism either. Maybe they could give Mr. Hines a job and keep him busy.
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