The state health department has denied Trident Health's request to add four bassinets to its nursery in North Charleston that would allow the hospital to treat the smallest, sickest infants.

Trident Health has asked the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental to reconsider the decision.

The Request for Review Committee will convene Monday afternoon via conference call to determine if the full DHEC board will take up the issue.

State regulations prohibit the hospital from investing $1.6 million in these higher-level nursery beds because it is located within 60 miles of Medical University Hospital, one of five designated regional perinatal centers in the state.

The regulations are designed so that the most critically ill premature infants are treated at these five centers. Advocates for the current system say the regulations concentrate expertise and help improve patient outcomes.

Trident Health CEO Todd Gallati said the hospital system wants the department to make an exception to this rule.

"If we were any other hospital in any other region, with the amount of deliveries and experience we have, we wouldn't have a regulation problem here," Gallati said in January. "But just because we're in the footprint of that 60 miles, (it) restricts us. We find that arbitrary."

Meanwhile, a working group organized by the South Carolina Hospital Association is studying potential changes to the state's perinatal regulations.

The association is expected to make recommendations to the state health department board this year. Any change would require legislative approval in 2015.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.