Fulton County Superior Court denies Doctors Hospital quest to grow

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) - - Two local hospitals weighed in on a court ruling that could lead to seeing a new hospital in Columbia County soon.  This process spans four years due to a very long court battle over which hospital should build in Columbia County.  A recent decision though still favors Augusta University Medical Center and it has already purchased land.

NewsChannel 6 spoke with AUMC CEO Lee Ann Liska about the Fulton County judge's decision.

"We hope that this is the last step in terms of moving forward and hopefully breaking ground very soon," she said.   

Once again Doctors Hospital is out and Augusta University Medical Center is still in.  The Georgia Department of Community Health gave the teaching hospital the green light to build its 100-bed, Level II trauma center in Columbia County, back in 2014.  And again now, after Fulton County Superior Court rejected a petition from Doctors Hospital raising objections about the decision. 

Liska said, "Doctors has exercised its right to appeal all along and we wouldn't be surprised if they do that again.  It is, of course, our hope that that will not be upheld and actually, that the case will not be upheld and we will be able to go ahead and break ground in as early as 90 days."

Doctors has 30 days to appeal and the Court of Appeals has 60 days to make a decision on if it will hear it according to Liska.

Doctors Hospital released a statement that said it is considering its options for appeal.  

"The Department of Community Health created arbitrary loopholes it had no legislative authority to write. They used one of those loopholes to award a CON to a state-supported entity.  Doctors Hospital has been serving and committed to the residents of Columbia County for decades. If allowed, we would have already brought a state-of-the-art healthcare center to Columbia County."

Liska added, "We believe that the reason why Augusta University Medical Center was chosen in the very beginning to be the hospital of record in Columbia County is our difference in the community.  We're an academic medical center, the only public academic medical center in Georgia. But in that way we can deliver care that is state of the art, current with learners, residents, fellows, faculty who are cutting edge, have the latest science, the latest technology and also know the bench research, the translational research, the clinical research and the critical care to bring the latest development of care to the community." 

Liska said AUMC has already purchased land in Grovetown.  She said the hospital is expected to cost $150 million.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps


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