AU enters the race to build a Columbia County Emergency Room

Columbia County

Updated Version:

EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) — Augusta University Medical Center has asked the state for a certificate of need. The proposal calls for a “freestanding ER” to be built at Knob Hill Farm and Washington Roads, that’s just southeast of the Riverwood Plantation development.

Augusta University CEO Katrina Keefer says the facility would help the residents of Columbia County get timely and urgent medical attention when they need it.

“Freestanding emergency departments are probably the wave of the future,” said Keefer. “However, they are not at all to replace full-service hospitals.”

People living in Columbia County could soon have a level two free-standing emergency room close to home.

“When you have an emergency, every second count,” said Keefer. “Whether it’s a heart attack, a stroke, or a boat injury that might have happened at the lake, being that much closer could make a difference in the outcome of our patients.”

AU Health’s CEO says the proposed facility will service a part of Columbia County that has a lot of people, but it doesn’t have emergency service nearby.

“We’ve had the certificate of need for the hospital in Columbia County since December 2014,” explained Keefer. “Even with this freestanding ER, in major peak traffic times, that could be 30 minutes apart.”

AU Health was awarded the certificate of need to build a 100-bed hospital in Grovetown. However, Doctors Hospital has filed a lawsuit to block it, so all that’s on hold right now. The proposed emergency room will not have any beds inside, but Keefer says if the freestanding facility is approved, the hospital could follow.

“They complement each other, and complement are strategy in growth of servicing the patients of Columbia County, with both primary and specialty care,” said Keefer.

Meanwhile, Doctors Hospital and University Hospital each have filed letters of intent and applications to build their free-standing emergency rooms in Columbia County. Doctors Hospital hopes to develop its facility where the former Fatz Café is located.


Columbia County, GA (WJBF) – Augusta University Medical Center has filed with the Georgia Department of Community of Health its intent to file for a Certificate of Need to build an emergency facility or “freestanding ER”.

The paperwork filed indicates that AUMC plans to build the facility directly off Washington Road where it intersects with Knob Hill Farm Road.  This is near the intersection of William Few Parkway at Riverwood Plantation. 

AUMC officials tell NewsChannel 6, this proposed site would further help the residents of Columbia County receive timely and urgent medical attention when necessary.

Doctors Hospital and University Hospital each have filed letters of intent and applications to build their own free-standing emergency rooms in Columbia County.  Doctors Hospital hopes to build its facility where the former Fatz Café is located off North Belair Road at Hereford Farm Road.  Doctors completed its application on February 3rd of this year.

University Hospital filed its own letter of intent shortly after Doctors Hospital.  Its proposal states UH would like to build a facility off North Belair Road at the end of University Parkway which currently dead-ends into a wooded lot owned by University Hospital.  The application process for University Hospital is currently underway.

Augusta University was awarded the Certificate of Need to build a 100-bed hospital in Columbia County off Exit 190.  However, Doctors Hospital has filed a lawsuit against the awarding of that document. Doctors argues that Georgia’s Department of Community Health essentially awarded the certificate to itself by giving it to Augusta University Health, which like the DCH, is run by the state of Georgia. That lawsuit is still in court after a Georgia Supreme Court judge sent it back to a lower court to decide.  University Hospital, which was denied the Certificate of Need for the hospital facility did not pursue a lawsuit to fight the DCH decision. 

Construction of that hospital by Augusta University has yet to begin because of the pending litigation.  AU officials tell NewsChannel 6, however, they hope to have it underway this year.

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