By Natalie Simms
The next fight between Floyd County’s two hospitals comes down to this: ‘Baby Wars.’
Redmond Regional Medical Center has applied for a Certificate of Need application with the state to offer obstetrics services with Floyd Medical Center quickly working to file an official letter of opposition to the project.
“Redmond has long been a leader in high-quality healthcare in Northwest Georgia. In continuing that tradition, we have filed a Certificate of Need to provide basic obstetric services. With this application, we are seeking to provide an opportunity for families in our community to have a choice in obstetrical care,” says John Quinlivan, CEO at Redmond Regional Medical Center
According to its application with the Georgia Department of Community Health, Redmond proposes to develop an obstetrics service providing basic perinatal services (Level I) including obstetric and neonatal newborn services.
“The new service would be located in approximately 27,959 square feet, which includes 25,598 square feet of new construction on the fifth floor of the hospital, 1,106 square feet of major renovation on the fifth floor and a 1,255-square-foot Central Energy Plant. The new service will include nine Labor, Delivery, Recovery, Post-Partum rooms, one C-section room and a seven-bassinet holding nursery. RRMC will convert nine of its current medical/surgical beds to LDRP beds, thereby, not increasing its current number of CON-authorized beds (230 beds),” states the application.
The total estimated cost of the project is $21.9 million funded through HCA’s reserves.
According to the application, Senate Bill 433 passed in 2008 exempts basic service applicants from addressing the need standards in counties where only one civilian health care facility or system is currently providing basic perinatal services and there are not at least 3 different health care facilities in contiguous counties providing services. Right now, only Floyd Medical Center provides services in Floyd County, while Cartersville Medical Center and Gordon Hospital provide services in contiguous counties.
“Women in need of basic perinatal services living in the service area, and more specifically in Floyd County, have very limited choice of hospital provider…Because of the lack of alternative obstetric providers, there is no real choice for basic obstetrical services in Floyd County and little in the service area. A patient’s choice of basic perinatal providers and services is important,” states the application.
Floyd officials are working to file a letter of opposition to the project with the state by the Jan. 25 deadline. Floyd CEO and President Kurt Stuenkel says Redmond’s application does not comply with the requirements of Georgia’s certificate of need law.
“There is no need for new maternity services in our community. The birthrate in the three-county primary service area is virtually stagnant. Redmond’s CON points to numbers from a 15-county area that includes fast-growing Paulding and Bartow counties, neither of which are served significantly by Floyd or Redmond,” he says.
“A much clearer picture of need is to look at the primary and secondary service areas of Floyd and Redmond: Floyd County, Chattooga County, Polk County, Cherokee County, Ala., Gordon County and western Bartow County, where birth rates are not growing.”
So, let’s look at the numbers. Here are stats on number of deliveries at Floyd Medical Center from the last six years. Figures are calculated for fiscal years starting July 1 through June 30 of the next year.
- 2012: 2,200 births
- 2013: 2,155 births
- 2014: 2,203 births
- 2015: 2,260 births
- 2016: 2,354 births
- 2017: 2,294 births (FY July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017).
And looking at total numbers of births in the service area that includes Floyd, Bartow, Chattooga, Gordon, Polk and Cherokee, Ala., you will not see any huge increments of change. Figures are from the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, and Alabama Center for Health Statistics, Statistical Analysis Division.
- 2012: 4,147 births
- 2013: 4,225 births
- 2014: 4,220 births
- 2015: 4,336 births
- 2016: 4,429 births
And according to figures from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, the number of females of childbearing age (15-44), in the service area is projected to decline slightly from 2017 to 2022 by 0.7 percent annually (or by 439 females), from 65,260 to 64,831.
“A competing obstetrics service would have a negative impact on Floyd and our work in the community. Redmond’s application estimates their new service would climb to over 700 births annually. These births would subtract from Floyd’s patient volume and would result in a loss of $5 million annually to Floyd,” says Stuenkel.
“Floyd could reduce some obstetrics-related costs if we lost this volume but we would not be able to reduce costs enough to make up for lost revenues. This would hurt Floyd and our ability to continue to deliver the consistently high-levels of community benefits that we currently provide.”
A decision on Redmond’s bid is due next spring from the Georgia Department of Community Health.