Augusta University faces another delay to build a hospital in Columbia County.
The Georgia Supreme Court is sending the case back to the Court of Appeals for a new ruling.
It’s been nearly a year after AU’s former CEO seemed confident the Georgia Supreme Court would rule in favor of their Certificate of Need to build a hospital in Columbia County.
NewsChannel 6 found an interview with former CEO of AU Health, Dr. Lee Ann Liska. She said, “we have no reason to believe that we will not win this appeal like we’ve won every single other appeal.”
That battle between Doctors Hospital and the Department of Community Health is headed back to the Court of Appeals.
Associate General Counsel of AU Health, Madeline Wills, says, “the Supreme Court issued new case law in the city of Guyton v. Barrow County, which has to do with judicial deference of the agencies interpretation of the law.”
This decision took place before AU’s case was heard at the December 23rd court ruling, which means the wait just got longer.
“The Supreme Court wants the Court of Appeals to consider that case and AU Medical Center’s Certificate of Ceed case to see if that law applies because they feel it’s relevant,” says Wills.
In a statement, CEO of Doctors Hospital, Doug Welch says AU got away with a “loophole” in the law. Welch says they would have already opened up a facility in the county if a CON was not needed.
“Columbia County is really one of the fastest and largest counties in Georgia that does not have it’s own hospital,” says Wills.
So, it’s no wonder that university, doctors, and AU all applied for the Certificate back in 2014.
“Unfortunately, since the case has been remanded to the Court of Appeals we think that it will at least be six to nine months before the briefing and a decision is reached.”
That decision can lead to 3 options: 1. the Court of Appeals approves AU’s CON for a hospital. 2. They deny it, or 3. they refuse to hear the case, which goes back to option 1: they get the hospital they planned to build.