Hoke Board Weighs in on Hospital Battle
The Hoke County Board of Commissioners has apparently taken sides in the continuing battle between two health care providers over whose hospital plan best meets the need of it residents.
On Tuesday, the five-member board unanimously approved a resolution asking Fayetteville-based Cape Fear Valley Health System to drop its legal appeals against Pinehurst-based FirstHealth of the Carolinas.
The state has approved plans by each health system to build hospitals near Raeford, and both have used legal appeals to block the other from starting construction.
FirstHealth CEO Charles T. Frock applauded Hoke commissioners for adopting the resolution.
"FirstHealth has directly and consistently recommended a solution that both hospitals drop all appeals so both can begin building with the state's support," Frock said Thursday in a statement. "Hoke citizens shouldn't have to wait any longer for a hospital to be built in their county."
Frock said FirstHealth is ready to build, even if Cape Fear Valley also begins construction.
"We support the availability of choice and competition in health care services," he said. "The ball is in Cape Fear's court and has been for months."
Cape Fear Valley is "not necessarily opposed" to a two-hospital solution, CEO Mike Nagowski said.
"However, we do not feel that FirstHealth's eight-bed hospital is the right solution for Hoke County," Nagowski said Thursday in a statement. "There are just too many questions that need answering."
According to Nagowski, those questions include:
- What is the rationale behind an eight-bed hospital with a helipad?
- Is FirstHealth only going to accept certain patients?
- Is FirstHealth prepared to lose 38 beds from Moore Regional (Hospital) to build eight beds in Hoke County?
- Why is FirstHealth afraid of the appeals process?
"There is an appeals process for a reason, and we are going to work through that process," Nagowski said. "We are confident that our application meets the needs of Hoke County residents."
On June 15, FirstHealth submitted a new application for a certificate of need that would allow it to build a 65-bed hospital, a $100 million project that would supersede previous plans. FirstHealth initially proposed building an eight-bed hospital at a projected cost of $34.1 million.
Either project would be constructed on a 30-acre site on U.S. 401 about halfway between Raeford and the Cumberland County line.
Cape Fear Valley has proposed a $92 million, 41-bed hospital on U.S. 401 closer to the Hoke-Cumberland line.
Frock and Nagowski appeared before the Hoke board last month to answer questions.
At that time, Frock told the board that FirstHealth would drop its appeals and begin building its eight-bed hospital if Cape Fear Valley would do the same and start building its hospital.
"Endorsement of this recommendation by the Hoke County Board of Commissioners will help tremendously to make hospital services in Hoke County a reality in the near future," Frock said then.
Cape Fear Valley officials refused, however, claiming the FirstHealth hospital would not fit the needs of Hoke County residents.
Frock told the board last month that continued appeals will likely delay completion of any hospital for at least a decade.
Contact Ted M. Natt at email@example.com.
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