The East Cobb Health Park is the second such facility that WellStar plans to open in the greater Atlanta market. The concept is to provide a one-stop shop for outpatient services, including urgent care, scheduled office visits, diagnostic procedures, physical therapy and health education.
The Acworth (Ga.) Health Park opened in 2012. WellStar said at the time that it had spent $109 million building the two facilities, which have become key parts of its strategy as more than half of its revenue now comes from outpatient care.
WellStar submitted its CON application in 2010, requesting to transfer three operating rooms to the East Cobb Health Park from its Windy Hill Hospital. While the Department of Community Health initially granted the CON, another local provider, Atlanta-based Northside Hospital, protested and took WellStar to court.
At issue was whether Georgia's CON regulations were “unconstitutionally vague” (PDF) in allowing the health department to decide on a “case-by-case basis” whether an offsite ambulatory surgery center is “part of a hospital,” and therefore subject to less stringent review.
Both the Georgia Court of Appeals and a Fulton County Superior Court Judge agreed that the rule was unconstitutional and blocked the ambulatory surgery center, but the Supreme Court this week disagreed and reversed the CON denial.
The East Cobb Health Park is scheduled to open in September, and the ambulatory surgery center will open about six months later.
Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher