Enquirer Herald

Fort Mill hospital decision delayed to 2013

The next decision on who will build a new Fort Mill hospital won’t be made for about a year.

The state Administrative Law Court won’t hear the case until Feb. 4, 2013, and the latest the court will release its decision is April 15, according to a consent scheduling order.

Piedmont Medical Center and Presbyterian Hospital are challenging state regulators’ decision to pick Carolinas HealthCare System to build a Fort Mill hospital.

The case has been assigned to Administrative Law Judge S. Phillip Lenski.

The schedule, according to the court, is:

• Aug. 3 – Piedmont and Presbyterian must designate their experts and provide a summary of each expert’s opinions.

• Sept. 7 – The respondents, the Department of Health and Environmental Control and Carolinas HealthCare System, must designate their experts and provide a summary of each expert’s opinion.

• Dec. 7 – Deadline for all discovery to be finished. Discovery is a pre-trial process during which each party requests relevant information and documents from the other side in an attempt to “discover” pertinent facts.

• Jan. 18 – Deadline for the final witness list.

• Jan. 25 – Deadline for filing pre-hearing motions and objections.

• Feb. 4-24 – Set aside to hear the case.

• April 15, 2013 – Deadline for the judge to announce his decision.

This is the second time the Administrative Law Court has considered who should build the Fort Mill hospital. In 2006, Presbyterian and Carolinas HealthCare System challenged regulators’ choice of Piedmont.

In 2009, an administrative law judge ordered the process be started over because DHEC had misinterpreted the state’s health plan in making its decision.

That decision set off another heated competition for the Fort Mill hospital that played out during many public meetings, on billboards along Interstate 77, and in thousands of letters of support for each applicant.

The cost to build a new hospital is in the millions, but whoever finally gets to proceed will shape health care in York County for years to come.

Carolinas HealthCare System’s plans call for a $77.5 million, 64-bed hospital at the intersection of Sutton Road and Interstate 77 with a projected net income of $431,000 in the first year, increasing to $2.5 million in the third year.