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Aiming for new surgery center in Braselton, Northside appealing state's 2018 certificate denial
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A doctor and nurse confer Jan. 31, 2018, inside a room used for flu patients at Northside Hospital in Cumming. - photo by The Associated Press

In 2018, Northside Hospital applied to the state for permission to build a surgery center in Braselton. It was denied.

Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) — which already operates a medical center in the area — made a similar request and was approved.

But the fight over which system will get to build a surgical facility in Braselton isn’t over.

Northside has a hearing with the Georgia Department of Community Health scheduled later this month for a certificate of need for the facility, according to a press release. The certificate of need program requires hospitals or health systems to seek approval for new and expanded facilities, with the goal of protecting hospitals’ investments and preventing duplication of services.

Northside is appealing the denial of the 2018 request, according to a Northside spokesperson.

“We believe the state made the right decision when it approved our application for an ambulatory surgery center in Braselton back in March, and we’re hopeful the Department of Community Health will uphold its decision so we can begin development as quickly as possible,” Anthony Williamson, president of NGMC Braselton, said in a statement. “We demonstrated we’re in the best position to provide this service to the community, especially given the investment we’ve made in healthcare services in Braselton for more than a decade.”

That facility would be located in a new Medical Plaza 2 building at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton campus and would have four operating rooms and two procedure rooms.

Northside’s version, The Braselton Specialty Surgery Center, would offer charity care to uninsured or underinsured patients and work with local charity clinics for patient referrals. Physicians will donate some services. NGHS has also committed to provide some charity care at its proposed surgery center. 

If the state approves Northside’s surgery center, it would take about 18 months to build. The 22,500-square-foot facility would have three operating rooms and one endoscopy room. Patients would be able to go to the ambulatory surgery center for outpatient procedures that would otherwise be done at a hospital. Procedures in orthopedics, urology, gastroenterology, neurosurgery and general surgery would be offered. 

Northside has medical offices in Braselton at 1255 Friendship Road.

"Last year, Northside served nearly 6,000 surgical outpatients from counties in northeast Georgia. They entrusted their care to us, and in this fast-growing area, our facility will strengthen the surgical resources they need," Northside spokesman Lee Echols said in a statement.

According to state records, NGHS’ application was approved March 25. Northside’s was denied that same day. Northside has also appealed the approval of NGHS’ facility, according to state records. Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center also appealed.

Both systems will make their cases to the state this month. 

NGHS spokesman Sean Couch said the state has not historically approved two similar applications in the same area.

See the original story by the Gainesville Times here.