Northside Hospital-Cherokee's plan to relocate from Hospital Road to a new $250 million facility near Canton Marketplace will not have to go through a rigorous state review process, hospital officials announced today.
WellStar Health System Inc. challenged that idea last month. While Northside said the new hospital location would be less than three miles from the current one and therefore exempt from the certificate of need (CON) application process, WellStar contended that Northside's math wasn't right. It also argued that the hospital would offer new or expanded services, another factor that would disqualify Northside from a CON exemption.
This week, the Georgia Department of Community Health rejected those suggestions.
"Based upon the facts and assertions contained within the determination request, the department determines that Northside may relocate Northside Hospital-Cherokee without prior CON review and approval," the agency wrote in an Oct. 19 letter to Northside.
The decision allows Northside to move forward with plans for a new hospital expected to add hundreds of jobs to the county.
"We are very excited that we have received the ‘green light’ to move ahead with this project in order to continue to provide the citizens of Cherokee County with high-quality health care services in a new, modern and more accessible health care facility," said Billy Hayes, CEO of Northside Hospital-Cherokee. "In light of this affirmative decision, any further objections or appeals by Wellstar would simply be an attempt to delay the project."
Cherokee County Board of Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said he was "delighted to hear that the State approved the hospital relocation project quickly and decisively."
Tuesday, commissioners endorsed Northside's relocation plan. According to hospital spokesman Russ Davis, more than 2,000 elected officials, business leaders, physicians, health care personnel and citizens lended their support through emails, phone calls and letters.
"This community doesn’t appreciate Wellstar’s attempt to deny the residents of Cherokee County a new, state-of-the-art hospital," Ahrens said.
The hospital is expected to open in March 2015.