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Piedmont Hospital opposes open heart service in Riverdale

Piedmont Hospital is challenging a rival hospital's bid to offer open heart surgery a short trip outside Fayette County.

Piedmont has filed a formal notice opposing the request from Southern Regional Health System, which needs approval from the Georgia Department of Community Health before it can begin offering open heart surgery at its hospital in Riverdale.

Ron Dodson, chairman of the Southern Regional Board of Directors, claims that Piedmont is putting its business interests "ahead of the health care needs of an underserved population that would clearly benefit from the establishment of a local open heart surgery program.

“Piedmont Hospital’s decision to oppose Southern Regional’s proposal to provide open heart surgical services should be cause for outrage throughout the Southern Crescent. The bottom line here is that a Buckhead hospital wants to dictate to the 850,000 Metro Atlantans who live south of I-20 that they should continue to have to fight their way through Atlanta traffic to receive this critical, life-saving surgery.

Last year more than 500 residents of the southern crescent area had to travel to downtown Atlanta for open heart surgery, Dodson said. Barely a fourth of those patients went to Piedmont Hospital, he added.

“Unlike any other hospital in the Southern Crescent, Southern Regional is in a position to remedy that problem in very short order. We have reached an agreement with Emory Healthcare under which Emory would provide cardiothoracic surgeons and other support to our program. That means we would be able to have some of the finest heart surgeons in the country in our operating rooms on day one. Moreover, we could make needed capital improvements in very short order, and be in a position to launch our program shortly after receiving state approval."

Southern Regional, a not-for-profit community hospital in Riverdale, filed its application for an open heart certificate of need on February 22, 2010. The Department of Community Health is expected to render an initial administrative decision by June 21.



smile's picture

"Piedmont is putting its business interests "ahead of the health care needs of an underserved population that would clearly benefit from the establishment of a local open heart surgery program."

Typical Piedmont behavior. Healthcare is a business, but Piedmont takes it to another level. All Piedmont and its executives see are dollar signs and how to make more dollars. What is best for the community or patients is not their biggest concern. Their concern is how can they get more money by taking over more of the healthcare business in our area. They are now trying to get with Henry Medical Center. I am glad Emory is with Southern Regional and not Piedmont. If Emory and Piedmont are going to compete to take over all the healthcare on the southside, I sure hope Emory wins. Piedmont is no good for our community as far as healthcare. They are a good business because they know how to make money, but I think we also need a healthcare organization with compassion and ethics.

For those new to the area in the last few years, you may not know that Fayette has not always had a hospital here. For years, the hospital now known as Southern Regional and its supporters vigorously lobbied the State of Georgia to deny multiple applications to build a hospital in Fayette County.

Like now, the opposition was one of financial interests, not real concern for patient care. It is humorous to see the comments of Southern Regional's board of directors use the same language the Fayette citizens used through the many years trying to get a hospital here.

Fayette citizens have historically had higher insurance coverage per capita than many of the counties in the state. That coverage, when matched with out of pocket payments, provided a large stream of revenue to Southern Regional's predecessor. Like now, it is about the money.

We have used the services of Piedmont and Southern Regional hospitals during the 25 years we have lived here. I believe both have benefitted from their close proximity and competition.

When Southern Regional's predecessor was the sole hospital in the region, it allowed its facility, services, and, sometimes, its care to languish. It has made multiple improvements over the past decade. The care we received during the last two times using the surgical center was top notch. Likewise, our multiple visits, stays, and surgeries at Piedmont have been very professional and comforting.

Cardiac care is an area dominated by hospitals in the downtown and northern perimeter areas of Atlanta. It will be good for all in the southern crescent to have local access to comparable care.

Note to administrators at both hospitals:

We've seen this episode before and it was not enjoyable the first time.

localyocal's picture

While I would agree that this is most likely in the financial interest of Piedmont, but it is more a problem of government allowing or not allowing the medical industry to have a free market. The only reason a hospital does not expand services or build new facilities is based on state laws and it is because of these laws that the patients are forced to travel to other facilities for testing or treatment. The health care industry in Ga. is one of the only industries that is not allowed to expand without government approval. Not every state has a such strict state government control over these issues and they function just fine and in most case have a wider variety of options for the patient. Think back 20 years when Fayette County wanted their own hospital and it took years and hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Piedmont's legal department to get the hospital passed by the state with opposition form every surrounding county then it took about 5 years to get labor and delivery and finally we are now getting a cancer center in the county. This law also prohibits any person or business from opening certain treatment, therapy or diagnostic facility without the consent of the state again limiting access to the public for care. While the state would argue that these laws prohibit to many facilities opening in one area diluting the patients amongst to many providers in reality what it will do is force both hospitals to spend money in legal fees over the next 3 to 5 years in which time all the patients that would benefit from cardiac care closer to home to travel into Atlanta. I would also like to think that if Piedmont had thought that they could make a buck off open heart surgery at Fayette Community they would have applied long ago as oppsed to shipping everybody downtown.

Just my 2 cents :)

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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