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WellStar Runs Out of Options

Since last year, WellStar Health System officials have contended that Northside Hospital-Cherokee's relocation efforts should go through the same state review process of other hospitals.

The Georgia Department of Community Health on Friday rejected WellStar Health System's .

"Northside Hospital is pleased that the Commissioner’s office has upheld all previous affirmative decisions rendered by the DCH," hospital spokesman Russ Davis said in a statement. "The citizens of Cherokee County are overwhelmingly in support of Northside’s plans for the replacement hospital.

Since last year, WellStar Health System officials have contended that .

They have said that Northside's actions and statements have made it clear that the new facility will greatly expand the services currently provided at Northside's present home on .

"Thus, like every other hospital in the state, they must go through the (Certificate of Need) process" that regulates the construction of health care facilities, WellStar spokesman Keith Bowermaster told Canton-Sixes Patch back in November.

The  in October. But in November,  with the same agency. A ."

That . WellStar requested an agency review hearing with Department of Community Health, which state officials turned down on Friday. It was the Marietta health care provider's last recourse in the process to obtain a final decision from the Department of Community Health.

"There is competent and substantial evidence in the record to support the Hearing Officer’s affirmative decision for the project on February 23, 2012," the department said in its latest ruling.

Northside has always maintained that it was exempt from that Certificate of Need review because the distance between the proposed site and the current one is less than three miles.

"The General Assembly ... expressly provided in 2008 that the relocation of an urban health care facility within a three mile radius of the existing facility would not require CON review or approval so long as the facility does not propose to offer any new or expanded clinical health services at the new location," Davis, Northside's spokesman, said last year. "While the relocated hospital will be state-of-the art, larger, and be located on a campus with ample room for further expansion as the community’s needs grow, the hospital service offerings will not change in connection with the relocation."

Today, he said he hopes "that this final decision from the state will cause WellStar to cease its continued efforts to delay this project."

Once all opposition is dropped, the project is expected to be completed within two years after the start of construction.

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