After a decade-long battle, Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill has won an appeal allowing it to build Fort Mill’s first hospital.
The ruling by the South Carolina Court of Appeals came as a setback to Carolinas HealthCare System, which had previously gotten the OK to build a hospital there. Carolinas HealthCare did not say if it will appeal the case to the S.C. Supreme Court.
“We are in the process of reviewing the opinion,” the Charlotte hospital system said in a statement. “Many York County residents have chosen, and will continue to choose, Carolinas HealthCare System providers for their care. We will maintain our commitment to providing the highest quality care and the comprehensive services needed for the residents in York County, and pledge to continue providing care and services for their families’ health care needs.
Brad Talbert, Piedmont Medical Center’s president and CEO, said he is pleased by the Court of Appeals ruling.
“While the ruling remains subject to appeal by Carolinas HealthCare, we are hopeful to conclude this legal process,” Talbert said in a statement. “This new hospital, coupled with our recently announced plans to construct a free-standing emergency department on Gold Hill Road, will enhance access to care for residents in this area.”
The ruling affirmed South Carolina Administrative Law Judge Phillip Lenski’s 2014 order that overturned a 2011 decision to give the coveted project to Carolinas HealthCare. That approval followed appeals of the state’s initial decision to give the project to Piedmont Medical Center.
Much has been at stake. Piedmont Medical, owned by the for-profit Tenet Healthcare Corp., declared in the past that it will lose millions if the Charlotte titan wins. Carolinas HealthCare, Charlotte’s largest employer and one of the largest public nonprofit hospital systems in the country, seeks to expand its base of patients who can be referred to its other area hospitals.
Piedmont officials plan to build a 100-bed, $120 million hospital at S.C. 160 West and U.S. 21 in Fort Mill, not far from Baxter Village, the housing community often cited as an example of York County’s booming growth.
The Fort Mill hospital will take 36 beds from Piedmont Medical and offer an emergency room, comprehensive women’s health services, advanced cardiac services and an intensive care unit, officials have said. It would create about 400 jobs.
In 2006, Piedmont Medical won the certificate of need from the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control to build the hospital. But Carolinas HealthCare and Novant Health, which had also applied for the certificate of need to build the hospital, appealed. A judge later ordered state regulators to reopen applications, essentially restarting the process.
Carolinas HealthCare won that round in 2011, when the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control ruled that its proposal best complied with the state’s health plan. Carolinas HealthCare proposed a 64-bed, $77.5 million facility on land west of Sutton Road near Interstate 77.
Both Piedmont and Novant appealed that decision to the South Carolina Administrative Law Court, but Novant eventually withdrew. Over four weeks in 2014, Lenski heard lawyers for Piedmont argue that a Carolinas HealthCare hospital would financially harm Piedmont Medical Center and York County doctors. They noted that adverse economic impact is one of the factors DHEC can consider.
Carolinas HealthCare attorneys said their hospital would not economically harm Piedmont because northern York County residents are already getting their health care from Carolinas Medical Center and CMC-Pineville. Carolinas HealthCare officials estimated they are already serving more than 50 percent of the patients in the Fort Mill-Tega Cay area.