Piedmont wins approval from court to build Fort Mill hospital

Posted April 1, 2014 10:01 am | Filed under Featured, Local News

fort_mill_medical_center_signA state Administrative Law Court judge has awarded Rock Hill’s Piedmont Medical Center a Certificate of Need to build a sister hospital in Fort Mill.

It’s the latest — and perhaps final — decision by the court ordering the S.C. Department of Environmental Control to issue the state-mandated certificate.

By law, healthcare providers must have the Certificate of Need before building any new facilities or large-scale equipment like a hospital, nursing home or  heart center.

Piedmont Medical Center first eyed Fort Mill as a new site for a hospital and applied for that Certificate of Need in 2005. DHEC later awarded that certificate to Piedmont Center, then revoked it in favor of a similar plan by Carolinas HealthCare Systems to build a hospital on Sutton Road west of I-77.

Two other hospital systems entered the fight, but later backed out in an October 2013 appeal. A decision by the court was expected in November — but wasn’t received until this week.

Piedmont Medical Center spokeswoman Amy Faulkenberry said hospital officials learned of Judge Phillip Lenski’s decision late Monday night and delivered the news to the organization’s administrative team and employees Tuesday morning.

“We are thrilled to be one step closer to having this resolved,” Piedmont Medical Center spokeswoman Amy Faulkenberry said.

Tenet Healthcare of San Antonio, Texas, owns Piedmont Medical Center and the Future Fort Mill Medical Center. Plans call for building a 100-bed facility at the corner of S.C. 160 and U.S. 21 between downtown Fort Mill and Interstate 77. Piedmont closed on the site in 2006.

“We  didn’t know what the judge was going to rule,” Faulkenberry said, referring to the October 2013 oral arguments before Judge Lenski. “Having sat through the trial, heard both sides under oath, we feel like this made sense to us that this was [the Judge’s] only decision.”

In a statement issued Tuedsay morning by Carolinas Healthcare System, hospital officals said they were “surprised” and “dissapointed” on Lenski’s decision.

“We appreciate the community’s unwavering support for our efforts, and look forward to continuing our commitment to York County through the many community benefit programs we support… We plan to review the full findings from the court and make a decision in the near future on what remedies are available to Carolinas HealthCare System should it decide to pursue them and what our next steps are in the process.

Barring any additional legal hurdles, Faulkenberry cited a target date of 2018 for the future hospital’s opening.

ATTACHMENT: Judge Lenski’s order before the Administrative Law Court

ATTACHMENT: Statement from Piedmont Medical Center

FULL INTERVIEW: Piedmont Medical Center spokeswoman Amy Faulkenberry