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Now it’s up to state officials to decide whether Chattooga County will have a free-standing emergency room.
Atrium Health Floyd submitted their application two weeks ago requesting to build a 24/7 emergency department next to the Trion Walmart.
“The clock starts ticking on that. So it will be about six months before we hear something yeah or nay,” Chattooga Commissioner Blake Elsberry said.
Atrium wants to build an $18.5 million “Emergency Department” on a parcel of land north and adjacent to Walmart. It would provide 24/7 emergency care and provide employment to 40 workers. Atrium, formerly known as Floyd Medical Center, will continue treating residents at Floyd Urgent Care in Summerville, according to Kurt Stuenkel, President and CEO of Atrium.
The hospital submitted their “Certificate of Need” to the Georgia Department of Community Health. Now they wait to see if it’s approved. There will be a meeting within 60 days, according to Elsberry.
“Any opposition letters are due within the 60-day term period. It says on the 65th day the applicant provides additional information. The 90th day [is] opposition meeting and the applicant can attend. The opposing party must provide a written copy of argument. On the 100th day is the last day to submit support letters. The 110th day the applicant provides amended information and applicant provides response to opposition. The 120th day the (state) department issues a decision,” Elsberry said.
Constructing an emergency care facility could generate some opposition between competing hospitals.
“I don’t know if there’ll be opposition or if it will just be one of those things where another group decides they want to put in a proposal too and they compete. . . I don’t know. I think either way, the county benefits in this situation,” Elsberry said. “Even one of the hospital groups in Chattanooga could enter that process if they wanted to. I think either way we benefit from the healthy competition, you know, being against each other to offer some services.”
The Chattooga County facility would be Atrium Health’s first freestanding emergency department in Georgia. Atrium Health currently operates seven freestanding emergency departments in North Carolina.
“We believe that this application has tremendous merit and will provide dramatic improvement in access and outcomes for patients who are in emergency medical situations,” said Stuenkel. “We are confident that approval is warranted and justified, and that Floyd has demonstrated continuous commitment to the residents of Chattooga County.”
The new emergency department would include CT scanners, laboratories and other equipment to help save lives.