Expanded healthcare on 280

By KATHRYN ACREE

Trinity 280

The new Trinity medical center planned for the vacant building on Highway 280 is tied up in court battles. Photo by Madoline Markham.

In the summer of 2010, 280 Living reported on the much-anticipated expansion of healthcare facilities on the 280 corridor. Trinity Medical Center was preparing to move its hospital campus from Montclair Road to the unfinished former HealthSouth campus near the Cahaba River. Brookwood Medical Center was set to start on a freestanding emergency department at the intersection of Highway 280 and Highway 119.

Both hospitals had received their Certificate of Need approval from Alabama’s State Health Planning and Development Agency in Montgomery. A year has passed without construction at either location. What happened?

Trinity on 280
Trinity’s move to the Cahaba Grand campus met expected opposition from Birmingham’s St. Vincent’s Health Systems and Brookwood Medical Center.  The case is currently in the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals due to a lawsuit challenging Trinity’s $280 – 300 million relocation and expansion.

Trinity’s CEO Keith Granger said he is optimistic the case will be ruled in their favor and that Trinity will be “relentless in its pursuit” to complete the planned campus.
“When the record of facts and details (on the case) is heard, the community’s need for this project will ultimately prevail, and we will be allowed to proceed,” Granger said.
Granger emphasized the positive economic impact Trinity on 280 will bring to our area.  He is saddened by the continued delays when considering what his company could have been spending on construction and related products and services rather than the expenses the hospital has incurred over the last 12 months due to court proceedings.
If the court rules on favor of Trinity, the new campus could be completed in two years or less. It would take three or four months of securing permits for construction, but then construction would begin immediately.
“We would put people to work immediately and jobs would be in play, taxes would be being paid,” Granger said.
Oral arguments in Trinity’s case will be heard beginning Oct. 6. Granger noted all the encouragement Trinity has received from citizens, community leaders and businesses. “It’s rewarding to see area support, patience and tolerance,” he said.

Brookwood Medical Center’s freestanding emergency department
Brookwood Medical Center also met opposition to its proposed $19 million emergency department in the Greystone area. In June a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge overturned Brookwood’s CON approval.
“Trinity appealed the decision saying Brookwood Hospital didn’t provide adequate public notice during the application process,” said Vice President of External Affairs Steve Preston. Brookwood plans to ask the judge to reconsider and will consider an appeal if the decision is not reversed.
St. Vincent’s Health Systems originally argued against the project as well but has since dropped its opposition.
“Brookwood and St. Vincent’s are long established market leaders in the Birmingham area,” Preston said. “Brookwood remains committed to this project and bringing the most-needed services to our patient base at the place where our patients need them most.”
Previously released information from Brookwood on the freestanding emergency department calls it the “first of its kind in Alabama.”  Construction on the 19,000-square-foot facility would take approximately a year to complete. Board-certified emergency medicine physicians with specialty physicians would be available 24 hours a day. The facility would have 24-hour fully staffed laboratory services, along with pharmacy and diagnostic services, including CT, MRI, X‐ray and ultrasound.
On the Brookwood emergency department’s website, http://www.280ERnow.com, Earnest and Kathy McConnell of Chelsea Park praised the “security and peace of mind” a close-by emergency room would bring. “If you are in an accident, your upmost concern, especially if a young person is involved, is getting help fast,” McConnell said.
280 Living asked McConnell his opinion on the court battles Brookwood and Trinity face. “I wish they could find a way to work through it and not battle like politicians, like the Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “They need to just negotiate.”
What do you think about the plans for the hospital and emergency department and how they are being held up in court? We want to know! Email madoline@280living.com, visit our Facebook page or leave a comment on http://www.280living.com to let us know. Watch http://www.280living.com and future print issues for an update on the court cases.

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