McLeod 11

McLeod Health's complex in Carolina Forest spans 43 acres and will eventually include seven buildings.

Two area hospitals will soon begin building emergency departments in Carolina Forest. 

After more than a year and a half of legal wrangling, Grand Strand Medical Center and McLeod Loris Seacoast Hospital have agreed to end a court fight over state officials’ decision to approve each hospital’s plans for a freestanding emergency center in The Forest, according to a court order filed this week. Conway Medical Center, which saw its application for a Carolina Forest emergency center rejected by the state, had appealed the state’s decision, but CMC saw its case dismissed last month.

“The remaining Parties’ decision to dismiss the above captioned consolidated contested cases will enable them to accelerate and enhance the provision of emergency department services in the Carolina Forest and surrounding areas, unimpeded by further litigation,” the order from Administrative Law Judge Deborah Brooks Durden said. 

Filed Tuesday, Durden's order cleared the way for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to issue certificates of need to Grand Strand and McLeod. That approval is needed for the hospitals to move forward with their construction plans.

DHEC spokesman Tommy Crosby said via email that state officials issued McLeod's certificate on Wednesday and planned to issue Grand Strand's on Thursday. Each provider will now submit an application to DHEC to add an emergency facility to its hospital license.

"Next, each facility will need to submit a form providing construction project information to DHEC before going through the project plan review process," Crosby said. "If DHEC issues acceptance of the final construction documents, construction can proceed, with DHEC conducting construction progress inspections until completion of construction."
 
In January 2017, the state initially approved applications from Grand Strand and McLeod for the construction of emergency facilities in The Forest. DHEC stood by its decision, but three hospitals appealed to the Administrative Law Court.

Conway Medical Center not only challenged the state’s rejection of its proposal, but also the decision to support the plans of Grand Strand and McLeod. Grand Strand and McLeod sought to overturn the state’s decision in each other’s project. These types of legal disputes among hospitals are not unusual.

DHEC records indicate state officials did not see the three hospitals’ proposals as competing and they found Grand Strand and McLeod showed a need for additional medical services in the growing Carolina Forest community.

Between 2000 and 2010, Carolina Forest grew by more than 500 percent, surging to over 21,000 residents, according to U.S. Census records. The community's population is projected to exceed 50,000 by 2030, according to the Horry County Planning and Zoning Department.

Grand Strand plans to construct an $8.9 million facility at the intersection of Carolina Forest Boulevard, Wiregrass Road and Oakheart Road.

"As the emergency provider of choice serving more than 100,000 patients in our ERs last year, we are excited to bring our caring and experienced team to this growing part of our community," said Dr. Radley Short, emergency room medical director for Grand Strand Health, in a prepared statement. "We expect to open in 2019."  

McLeod’s proposal calls for the construction of a $9.6 million project on International Drive. The emergency department will be part of the 43-acre medical complex McLeod is developing there. That property will eventually hold seven buildings.

McLeod spokeswoman Jennifer Hulon said her hospital wanted to wait until it had received the official communication from DHEC before commenting on the project's status.

CMC proposed building a $9.3 million facility off Surgeons Drive and Carolina Forest Boulevard. However, DHEC had already approved an expansion of the emergency department at the main hospital in Conway and state officials determined that project would meet the need highlighted in the hospital’s Carolina Forest application.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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I'm the editor of myhorrynews.com and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

(2) comments

thans625

It seems that the Horry County Government is increasingly using its powers to approve or disapprove based on the financial issues that are good for the government as opposed to what makes common sense for the people of HC. Recently they approved the building of a grocery store on the corner of Wild Wing and 501 and then followed that with the approval of the building of apartments in the same area. Both times the residents of Sanctuary Blvd opposed the building based on the traffic on Wild Wing Blvd. They were asked to do a traffic study but the response was there was one done few years ago. My comment before this happened was they will press on with these projects because he HC council is made up of members with ties to the builders. This is typical of HC politics at its best. Prior Infrastructure responsibilities are not being charged to the builder but to the taxpayer. The next time you vote please keep in mind the lack of good government that's in place now.

tmarxmiller

Sounds like there was some backroom things going on. All that this does is to increase medical costs by allowing one or two to tap into the growing area. Why shouldn't CMC be allowed to build one too? What is happening to "free trade"? If CMC, McCloud, and GS are allowed to grow, all that does is to give the public more options, and keep costs down, by allowing competition. Since moving here, about 4 years ago, we have seen many good doctors leave the area, because of GS's pulling their 'rights to use facilities' if they don't come into the fold, sort of speak. Big business knows how to quash the little guy, and ultimately we are left with fewer choices, longer waits, and growing costs. IF CMC thinks that they can give the community good service, and still make a dime, then why should a few be able to quash those efforts? Like I said, sounds just like all the rest of Govt intervention, they only want what helps them, not what keeps prices down on the little guy.
If they were allowed to build/expand, then, the people, doctors and emergency services, would have more options, thus, keeping prices down.
We need more options, not less.

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