After an 18-month battle, Roper St. Francis Healthcare has dropped its opposition to Summerville Medical Center’s $26 million expansion, hoping the olive branch will clear the way for the two healthcare providers to settle their dispute in Berkeley County.
2008: Trident and Roper both apply for a Certificate of Need for a 50-bed hospital in Berkeley County.June 2009: Both medical providers are given the OK to build 50-bed hospitals in Berkeley County.August 2009: Trident appeals the decision, saying Berkeley can’t support two hospitals.November 2010: Summerville Medical Center applies for a Certificate of Need to add 30 beds.September 2011: DHEC approves the Summerville expansion.October 2011: Roper appeals the Summerville decision.April 2013: Roper withdraws its appeal.
“We hope they will look at this as a gesture on our part,” said Doug Bowling, chief strategy officer of Roper St. Francis. “This has gone on too long.”
But Lou Caputo, chief executive officer of Summerville Medical Center, said he is not sure if one case has bearing on the other. Summerville and Trident medical centers are part of the HCA hospital system.
“The Summerville expansion truly was independent of that Berkeley County case,” he said. “It was to meet the needs at Summerville Medical Center independent of what was going on in Berkeley County. The facts of that case still remain the same.”
Nonprofit Roper and for-profit Trident have been battling since 2008 over providing medical care in Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
In 2009, both were issued Certificates of Need to build 50-bed hospitals in Berkeley. Roper wants to transfer beds from its downtown hospital to the Carnes Crossroads area, while Trident wants to expand at its existing Moncks Corner Medical Center site, about 12 miles away.
South Carolina uses the Certificate of Need review process to prevent unnecessary duplication of health care facilities and services.
Trident appealed the decision, saying the county cannot support two facilities. A decision could take another year.
In 2010, Summerville Medical Center applied to add 30 beds to its 94-bed facility.
When the project was approved the next year, Roper appealed, causing some to question the motive.
Caputo said at the time he felt that the Roper opposition was for leverage in the Berkeley battle.
Bowling denied that on Monday, saying the appeal was because Summerville and Trident used the same population to justify both projects.
“We thought it was inconsistent that at the same time they were arguing that Berkeley doesn’t need the hospital, they were arguing that Summerville did,” Bowling said.
He said dropping the appeal was contingent on Trident agreeing not to use the Dorchester numbers in Berkeley.
“It is our most sincere hope that ... Trident and its parent company, HCA, will finally acknowledge the need for the hospital we are planning to build in Berkeley County and allow our project to move forward,” Bowling said.
While waiting for the Dorchester issue to be settled, the Summerville Medical Center turned its attention to other projects, including the addition of a pediatric emergency area.
“We have brought new, much needed services to Summerville Medical Center and our community,” Caputo said. “Once these projects are completed, we will focus our attention on the expansion project.”
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or facebook.com/brindge.