Certificate of Need denied for Rowan Regional South

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Kathy Chaffin
Salisbury Post
State officials announced their decision Friday to deny the certificate of need application for the proposed Rowan Regional South.
Just hours before the denial was announced, officials with Rowan Regional Medical Center and Novant Health filed an appeal of the Certificate of Need Section’s Feb. 28 decision to grant the application by Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast of Concord for a freestanding emergency department.
The $17.2 million facility would be built on Lane Street near Interstate 85, a few miles from the proposed Moose Road site for the $107 million community hospital.
Michael C. Burton, director of corporate communications for Rowan Regional, said officials there are very disappointed with the denial. “We had a strong application,” he said, “and southern Rowan County ó the residents of Landis, China Grove and Kannapolis ó need and deserve and want a full-service community hospital.”
Marcia Meredith, media relations manager for Novant Health, also expressed disappointment at the decision. Though the applicants have not yet had a chance to review the findings, she said an appeal is likely.
Carol L. Hutchison, project analyst for the Certificate of Need Section of the N.C. Division of Health Services Regulation, would not comment on reasons for the decision, saying state officials have five working days to submit the report of the findings to applicants.
Rowan Regional and Novant has 30 days to appeal.
Burton said Friday’s appeal of the Certificate of Need’s approval of the freestanding emergency department was based on concerns raised by Novant officials at the Dec. 19 public hearing on the application.
Dr. Celia Entwistle, emergency physician at Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville, for example, said a freestanding emergency department would put patients with critical conditions such as acute airway obstruction and ruptured spleen at risk because of the time it would take to transfer them to a hospital or medical center for surgery.
Burton said a full-service hospital with appropriate surgical support would “better meet the health care needs of the community.”
Mark Nantz, president of CMC-NorthEast, said officials there are pleased with the state’s decision to deny the certificate of need application for a community hospital in southern Rowan, but very disappointed in the appeal by Rowan Regional and Novant. “We believe that appeal is unfounded,” he said.
The freestanding emergency department ó to be called Carolinas Medical Center-Kannapolis ó would provide essential services for the people of southern Rowan and northern Cabarrus/Kannapolis, Nantz said, “and we want to be able to provide them as soon as possible.”
“For another health care system to hold the people hostage from essential services,” he said, “we don’t think that’s the way we should go about fulfilling our responsibilities to the community.
“Just let us do what we need to do and provide those services to the community like we’ve been doing for 70 years.”
CMC-NorthEast filed its application for a freestanding emergency department with the Certificate of Need Section on Sept. 18. Rowan Regional and Novant filed the application for a community hospital in southern Rowan on Oct. 15.
Both applications received strong support from their respective communities.
Burton said 4,954 community members wrote letters of support for Rowan Regional South via the mail or the myrowansouth.org Web site. A total of 140 physicians went on record supporting the proposed hospital, he said, and five government boards ó the Kannapolis City Council, China Grove and Landis town boards, Rowan County Board of Commissioners and Salisbury City Council ó passed resolutions of support.
A mayor of one of those boards, Jim Brown of Landis, said of Friday’s decision, “To be honest with you, I’m not real surprised.”
Brown said he doesn’t believe the Moose Road site is a good location for Rowan Regional South. “It didn’t have good access,” he said, “and it was awfully close to the other project (CMC-NorthEast’s freestanding emergency department) that was going on.
“I think they will find an appropriate site and go forward from there. I don’t think the project is dead by any means.”
The certificate of need application called for the hospital to include: 50 acute-care beds; an intensive-care unit; a surgical operating room and endoscopy suite; four labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum maternity suites; laboratory and pharmacy services; imaging services; diagnostic cardiac services; and a 24-hour emergency department with 12 treatment rooms.
Plans for the proposed 24,000-square-foot emergency department ó which would operate as an outpatient department of CMC-NorthEast ó include: 10 treatment rooms, two observation beds; a CT scanner and ultrasound; and radiology and laboratory services.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249 or kchaffin@salisburypost.com.