FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - The destiny of a new hospital that RegionalCare Hospital partners want to build in Florence could be known at the end of a three-week-long hearing that began Monday.
As part of the Certificate of Need process, RegionalCare gets the opportunity to state its case for building a new hospital; as well as those who oppose it gets to express their disapproval.
In a small, cramped meeting room in Florence, lawyers and owners of opposing hospitals meet to give their vision for the future of healthcare in northwest Alabama.
“What the people of the Shoals need and deserve is a new 300-bed regional hospital,” said Jeff Atwood, ”to take care of the healthcare needs today and for the next several decades.”
Representing RegionalCare hospital partners, Atwood says the current ECM Hospital in Florence is just too dated, and renovating that hospital is just not possible.
And that’s what they will try to convince an administrative law judge over the next three weeks.
"Just the age and the use of 50 years has left us with a facility that needs to be replaced," said Atwood.
Plans also include a cancer center at the proposed hospital.
Helen Keller Hospital and Alliance Oncology, a cancer treatment facility, both strongly oppose the need to build a new hospital.
“We believe that the people of the Shoals need and deserve a new regional hospital,” explained Atwood. “There are some in the area who are opposed to the progress of healthcare and opposed to the people of Lauderdale County getting a new hospital and they will make their case.”
The proposed cost of a new hospital and cancer treatment center comes in at nearly $300 million.
The Certificate of Need hearings are expected to last three weeks. When they are complete, the judge will have 30 days to give his opinion to the State Certificate of Need Board.