Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The ongoing debate between two hospitals was opened once more last week as county residents heard from Roper St. Francis Hospital.
Roper and Trident Health System filed Certificate of Need applications that were both accepted in June 2009. Roper’s proposed facility would be in the Carnes Crossroads community of Goose Creek and Trident’s located 12 miles away in Moncks Corner.
While Roper has maintained the population growth in Berkeley County could support two, Trident says there only needs to be one centrally-located hospital in Berkeley County, in Moncks Corner.
Executives from Roper hosted a forum on the afternoon of Feb. 18 at the clubhouse of Del Webb for citizens of the gated retirement community in Cane Bay Plantation, off U.S. 176.
Citizens heard from Roper President and CEO David Dunlap and Chief Strategy Officer and CEO Doug Bowling, who gave presentations then took questions. Most of the roughly 10 residents who stepped up to the microphone appeared frustrated at the delays and said they favor Roper building at Carnes Crossroads.
Many questions and some suggestions revolved around how to speed up the process.
The two hospitals have been suing, countersuing and appealing cases in state courts.
“Trident filed suit to stop our project,” Bowling said. “That forced us to file to stop theirs. We had to or else the court would not hear our case. Trident filed to expand their Summerville facility. We had to file suit against that.”
Bowling said Trident’s logic is that Dorchester County can support a larger facility than the one proposed in the more populated Berkeley County.
According to the presentation, Trident filed a request in September for the administrative law court judge to reconsider his decision, which was upheld by the judge in October.
In November Trident appealed again. A May court date is set for a hearing on the Summerville Medical Center expansion.
“Our position is pretty clear,” Bowling said. “Berkeley County could support two hospitals. We said both are justified. We feel that we fought hard for Berkeley County.”
“This is the largest county in South Carolina that does not have two hospitals,” Dunlap said.
“It’s about our health and our lives,” one citizen said. “What can we do to expedite this matter?”
Dunlap asked citizens to continue to show their support with letters to the editor and by contacting Trident.
“If they hear from you that is probably the most powerful message you can send,” Dunlap said. “Public pressure…that’s what businesses respond to.”
“Trident would have to drop their appeals to speed up the process,” Bowling said.
Dist. 100 Rep. Eddy Southard (R-S.C.), a Moncks Corner resident, said he was at some of the Columbia hearings.
“I can see a need where they need two,” Southard said. “I will see if there’s anything that can be done to speed it up.”
He said the state legislature supported both hospitals. The decision is economic, he said, adding that he would love to see an Outback Steakhouse in Moncks Corner but added that’s probably not going to happen based on economics.
Goose Creek City Councilmember Kimo Esarey spoke, saying the city supports Roper’s stance of building both hospitals.