Can’t we all just get along?

I was pleased to see DHEC (who is charged with making these decisions, not the state legislature) approve recent requests for two hospitals in our community. I was hopeful that we’d all be one big, happy, community after these decisions but I guess after reading last month’s article, it appears things may not be finalized.

Here’s the article from The State along with information about what should be coming our way soon (I hope).




The Columbia area’s three hospital systems received state approval Monday for nearly $190 million in expansions in highgrowth regions of the Midlands.

* The Irmo area gets its first hospital, with Palmetto Health expanding the Parkridge emergency care facility.

* Providence Hospital Northeast will nearly double in size with a 38-bed, $81.8 million expansion that includes a new MRI unit and expanded emergency room.

* Lexington Medical Center will boost its beds by 10 percent.

Although the hospitals received what they requested, not everyone was happy: Lexington Medical Center plans to challenge the other expansions.

“They flip-flopped and approved the very same projects they strongly denied less than two years ago,” said Tod Augsburger, Lexington’s chief operating officer. “State health planning is becoming political.”

Lexington Medical officials still are miffed that both Palmetto and Providence fought its proposed open-heart surgery program, said Lynn Bailey, a Columbia health economist.

Lexington’s latest challenge, she said, “is revenge.”

Any hospital has 15 days to challenge the approvals made by the state regulators.

“It’s the end of the regular season,” Bailey said. “Now we go to the playoffs. ….. I don’t see it being resolved until there’s a change in leadership at some institutions.”

Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge was planned for nearly a decade, but state regulators expressed concern in 2005 that Palmetto was overextending itself with the costly project.

A year ago, Palmetto resubmitted a less expensive Parkridge plan, shaving $40 million off its original plan by tweaking the building’s layout and size.

The approved project carries a $99.5 million price tag.

“In the redesign phase, we did not compromise care and quality of care,” Palmetto chief executive Charles Beaman said.

The Parkridge facility will use 76 beds that are licensed — but unused — at the downtown Palmetto Baptist facility.

Lexington Medical leaders argued during the approval process that Palmetto’s Irmo-area project duplicates what Lexington has at a nearby satellite facility.

The guide used to decide hospital expansions, based on population and technology, called for 38 more beds in Lexington County.

Augsburger said Lexington Medical’s request for 38 beds filled that need. The $8 million expansion — due to be finished in a year — will bring the total beds at the center to 384.

But a proposed update of the guide regulators used predicts Lexington County’s growing population needs an additional 104 beds on top of the 38 Lexington Medical Center requested, Bailey said.

That appeared to leave the door open for Parkridge, she said. In their letter approving Parkridge, the state regulators from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control wrote the new hospital’s impact would be “minimal” for competitors.

Meanwhile, Sister Judith Ann Karam, chief executive of Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals, said she had hoped no one would challenge the Providence Northeast expansion. “We supported Lexington’s additional beds,” she said.

Tim Flach contributed. Reach Werner at (803) 771-8509.

* * *


Number of beds after expansions and transfers approved by state regulators Monday:

1. Palmetto Health Richland: 649

2. Palmetto Health Baptist: 413

3. Lexington Medical Center: 384

4. Providence Hospital: 258

5. Providence Northeast: 84

6. Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge: 76

* * *


PALMETTO HEALTH BAPTIST PARKRIDGE: Irmo-area emergency-care facility becomes a hospital with 76 beds transferred from Palmetto Health Baptist in Columbia

Price: $99.5 million



Adding 38 beds and expanding the emergency room at the 46-bed hospital

Price: $81.8 million



Adding 38 beds to 346-bed hospital outside West Columbia

Price: $8.1 million

Copyright (c) 2007 The State
Record Number: 0708280063