Public input to be sought on certificates of need

Hearing June 27 for Erlanger, Tennova requests for emergency department

By BRIAN GRAVES

Posted 3/4/18

On June 27, 2018, the board of the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency will hear requests from two different medical entities wanting to provide almost the exact same services to Bradley County.

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Public input to be sought on certificates of need

Hearing June 27 for Erlanger, Tennova requests for emergency department

Posted

On June 27, 2018, the board of the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency will hear requests from two different medical entities wanting to provide almost the exact same services to Bradley County.

Though not unusual, it is a new phenomenon to hit this area and the process forward encourages public input.

Erlanger Health Services has requested a Certificate of Need, which would allow it to proceed with building a free-standing emergency department in the area of Exit 20.

Tennova-Cleveland has announced its intention to do the same thing, but has yet to officially submit its application with details or location information. It is expected to be submitted by the end of this month.

Timing has placed both entities on the same schedule, and that schedule could include a public hearing to be held locally.

For one to happen, a request would have to be made.

“The CON (Certificate of Need) process takes approximately 120 days from the time that the application is filed,” explained Melanie Hill, executive director of the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency.

Hill explained the first 30 days are typically interoffice work “where our staff will review the applications and ask questions to clarify matters and request additional information.”

“If the application is deemed complete that month, meaning they have responded to all of the questions, then the application goes to the reviewing agency – the agency which is responsible for licensing the entity,” she said. “In this case, it would be the Department of Health because that is who licenses the hospitals.”

The license goes there for 60 days, then it comes back to the agency, where it is heard by an 11-member board who will make the decision.

“The agency has to make its decision based upon four criteria: whether the project is needed, whether it is economically feasible, whether it will meet quality standards, and its contribution to the orderly development of health care,” Hill said.

“In a situation like this, where you have two applications that are asking for very similar services in the same area, then we treat them as simultaneous review applications,” Hill said. “That means the agency will hear the presentation by one applicant and hear any support or opposition that is present from the community. They will then hear the same concerning the next application. They will ask questions of both applicants. Each applicant will provide a brief summary and closing. The agency will then make a decision.

“When they have two applicants asking for the same thing, they can approve both applications, deny both applications, or could approve only one,” Hill said.

Hill said there have been instances where there have been simultaneous review applications and both have been approved.

“I won’t say it happens frequently,” she added.

While public input will be part of the June board meeting, Hill said if someone requests the agency come to the community “we will come to hold a public hearing.”

“That gives everyone in a local community that may not be able to travel to Nashville the opportunity to get up and say whatever they want to say,” Hill said. “We will take that information back to the board and they will have access to that information.

“We certainly encourage people to write letters as well if they support or oppose a particular project and those letters also go to our agency members and people have an opportunity at the actual board meeting where the applications will be heard to get up and speak as well,” she said.

Hill emphasized the agency will come into the community “but we have to have someone request that we do so.”

“It can be anybody from the community to ask,” she said.

HSDA Deputy Director Mark Farber is the one who would lead a public hearing should one be requested.

“It’s an opportunity and we stay there as long as people want to,” Farber said. “There wouldn’t be any board members there, but we would accept any written or verbal testimony anyone would want to present at that time. Anyone can speak for or against the projects.”

Farber said the applicants are typically invited to “make a brief presentation if they want.”

“What we probably won’t let happen is to let it turn into a debate,” Farber said. “This is a fact-finding public hearing and we would do our best to keep it to that.”

He said “pretty detailed minutes” are kept of the hearing, and they are presented to the board a week to 10 day before it hears the applications.

Farber said there is no deadline to ask for the public hearing, but they would prefer it occur “earlier the better so we have time to find a venue and there needs to be enough time so the package can be prepared and presented to the board.”

With the board hearing scheduled for June 27, Farber said it would be best to have any requests turned in by late April or early May.

Those requests can be sent to Health Services and Development Agency, Andrew Jackson Building, 9th Floor, 502 Deaderick St., Nashville, TN 37243.

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