Columbia County, GA -
***UPDATED - TUESDAY, MARCH 18, 2014, 10:45PM***
Despite high anticipation of which area hospital would be the first erected in Columbia County, the Board of Commissioner chose to leave the decision up to a group in Atlanta.
Now, Doctors Hospital, Georgia Regents University Hospital and University Hospital have more work ahead of them if they choose to move forward in moving across the county line.
Chairman Ron Cross and the rest of the commissioners all agreed two hospitals would be left behind if they made a decision.
"During this entire process it weighed heavily on me," Cross said.
It was close to standing room only at the meeting, yet not one of the three prominent hospitals in the CSRA walked away feeling like they just hit the jackpot.
Commissioner Ron Thigpen said, "If we were to choose the wrong one that was not approved by the Department of Community Health on their specific exemption then we would lose the opportunity for a hospital."
Commissioner Trey Allen agreed.
He said, "These are three completely different animals that are taking completely different routes to where we hope for them to go."
Instead of rallying behind one health organization, commissioners endorsed all three candidates. All parties must now gear up for a lengthy presentation to the Georgia Department of Community Health in Atlanta.
"I’d be surprised if it gets done in six months," Cross said following the meeting.
He added once DCH makes its decision, more action could take place.
"We’ll see if the other two appeal and then we’ll get on to a final design and on to building a hospital," added Cross.
Michael Hicks, of Evans, did not support any particular hospital. He did, however, agree with the decision the hold off.
"I think that if it’s going to be in the best interest in the county to come up with the best decision, then to have it take a little longer is going to be good for everyone involved."
GRU Vice President of Partnerships Shawn Vincent said the hospital will need to evaluate going forward after putting together a proposal based on the initial Request For Proposal (RFP).
There is still the option that a hospital may not come. Cross said DCH might conclude that despite the growth there is not a need.
Developing on News Channel 6:
Columbia County Commission Chairman, Ron Cross, has announced the body will not be making a decision on which local hospital be built in Columbia County.
Cross announced at the meeting Tuesday night, the decision was too big for the Commission to make by itself. The Commission voted unanimously to abandon the original application process in favor of all 3 hospitals applying to the State Department of Health with Columbia County's support.
Even if Commissioners had "selected" a favored hospital, the final decision would have ultimately been made with the State Department of Health.
The hospitals bidding for the right to build a facility in Columbia County are: Doctor's Hospital of Augusta, University Hospital, and Georgia Regents Medical Center.