Tennessee's certificate-of-need regulators seem determined to keep a new hospital out of the suburbs south of Nashville, but they did recently approve a new hospital near Knoxville.
For the second time this year, the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency board has turned down a proposal for a small, for-profit hospital in Williamson County, a wealthy suburb south of Nashville. Home to the headquarters of investor-owned hospital chains such as Community Health Systems and Province Healthcare Co., the county has just one hospital, county-owned Williamson Medical Center in Franklin.
Both of the unsuccessful applicants are appealing the rulings. Last week, Diversified Specialty Institutes asked the board to revisit its rejection of DSI's proposed Cool Springs Institute in Franklin. The institute would be a $32.9 million, 24-bed acute-care hospital with a focus on treating obesity and women's breast diseases. The CON board rejected the proposal last month.
The other applicant, Healthcare Management Directions, filed an appeal to the board's vote against the company's proposal for a $42.7 million, 40-bed hospital in its headquarters of Brentwood, another suburb of Nashville. A spokeswoman said the company, founded by several former Quorum Health Group executives, filed the appeal to keep its options open on the project, but it hasn't decided whether to strongly pursue a rehearing. The appeal allows the company to make changes to its plan without submitting an entirely new proposal.
The county hospital and the big-city providers that have opposed the projects-including HCA and St. Thomas Health Services-have argued that both would unnecessarily duplicate services.
Knoxville-based St. Mary's Health System, a part of Catholic Healthcare Partners, got better news. The CON board approved its $64 million proposal to build a 72-bed hospital in the northern part of Knox County. The facility, expected to open in 2007, will be connected to a women's, cancer and imaging center that St. Mary's is opening this year. The hospital plans to reduce the bed count by 72 at its main campus.