Doctors Hospital files paperwork to build Columbia County emergency room

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Columbia County, GA (WJBF) Doctors Hospital has filed a 2nd Certificate of Need with the Department of Community Health to bring a new facility to Evans.

The paperwork filed with the state on January 21 2020, indicates the application is for a Free Standing Emergency Room.  NewsChannel 6 has learned, the facility will be built at the site of the former Fatz Café restaurant on the corner of North Belair Road and Hereford Farm Road.

According to a spokesperson with Doctors Hospital, the first certificate of need for a free standing ER was denied in 2012 with the state claiming Columbia County was adequately served by hospitals in Augusta.  Later in June of 2014, Doctors Hospital along with Augusta University (formerly Georgia Regents University Health) and University Hospital each requested approval to build a full hospital in the county.

University Hospital dropped the idea of a hospital after its Certificate of Need filing was denied by the DCH.  Doctors Hospital was also denied the approval and the Certificate of Need to build a hospital facility was later awarded to Augusta University Health.  Currently, that decision is part of a lawsuit filed by Doctors Hospital claiming conflict of interest because the state run DCH awarded the certificate to the state run medical school.  A decision on that matter was heard in 2019 by the Georgia Supreme Court who referred the case back to lower court for final decision.

Lynthia Owens with Doctors Hospital tells NewsChannel 6, “The Certificate of Need proposal to build a Free Standing Emergency Room is not a substitute for our proposal to build a hospital in Columbia County.  Our goal with this free standing emergency room request is to ensure that all of our community has easy access to the highest quality healthcar3e when an emergency strikes.”

Owens adds, access to care is a priority for Doctors Hospital and she says, the hospital will continue to pursue innovative ways to provide that access to their patients and families.

As the case is being heard in court, Augusta University has not started to build its hospital, which will be located off Exit 190 in Grovetown. You can read the latest on that venture by clicking here.

NewsChannel 6 reached out to Augusta University for comment on the Certificate of Need filed by Doctors Hospital, a spokesperson sent the following response for CEO, Dr. Katrina Keefer: “Doctors Hospital’s new application has no bearing on the Court’s decision in Augusta University Medical Center’s Columbia County hospital case. As the Courts have found time and time again, general acute care hospitals, like the one that AUMC will build in Columbia County, are fundamentally different types of facilities from freestanding emergency departments, and Columbia County continues to have great need for services such as Level II trauma services and other hospital services that cannot be provided in a freestanding emergency department. AUMC continues to be optimistic that the Court will again issue a decision in AUMC’s favor, and AUMC will continue in its commitment to move forward in bringing a new hospital to the residents of Columbia County.

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