Start of Construction of New Hospital Does Not Have To Be Delayed

July 17, 2013

Keller Hospital has made it clear all along that we do not oppose a new hospital, but we believe that it should be sized in compliance with the law. The administrative law judge agreed with our position and made that recommendation to the CON Board. Alabama courts have already ruled in favor of supporting the state health plan in previous cases. The question going forward is not whether a hospital will be built, but how many beds it will have. Regional Care is free to begin construction today on their new facility. Nothing in an appeal to the court prevents them from starting construction. The only matter left to resolve is whether it will have 233 beds or 280 beds. Helen Keller Hospital is obligated to seek appropriate resolution of this issue to help insure that healthcare services for the people of Colbert County are not threatened.

After reviewing the Certificate of Need Review Board's recommendations for a 280 bed hospital to be built in Lauderdale County, Helen Keller Hospital has decided to file an appeal with the Montgomery County Circuit court. The appeal of the CON board's ruling is based on Alabama health law which clearly says that the maximum size of a new hospital in Lauderdale County should be 233 beds.

We believe a new hospital should be built that is financially sustainable. Anyone who is familiar with Alabama Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross will tell you that $350 million in debt or investments cannot be paid back and is not sustainable. Testimony in the hearings revealed the request for 300 beds came from Nashville, not Lauderdale County leadership. In addition, the arbitrary number of 280 beds voted on by the Certificate of Need Review Board is not founded on any facts or history of the existing hospital's daily census. It was simply pulled from the air and put forth as a suggestion. The facts of the case and the application of law arrived at by the Administrative Law Judge were totally ignored. It is unfortunate that we are compelled to resort to the courts to impose the laws of Alabama.

"As the area's only remaining not-for-profit hospital, our primary concern is ensuring quality health care that is accessible and affordable and protecting the livelihoods of over 1,000 employees who live in Colbert, Lauderdale, Franklin and surrounding counties," said Doug Arnold, Helen Keller Hospital President and CEO. "Since Helen Keller Hospital is a public hospital, we take very seriously the protection of the public's $300,000,000 asset. Caring for patients is at the heart of our mission and we sincerely wish to see quality health care accessible for all the citizens of the Shoals regardless of the patients' ability to pay."