HCA, AdventHealth ER battle drags on

Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth aims to curtail HCA Healthcare's growth in Western North Carolina, appealing another one of Mission Health's certificate-of-need applications for a freestanding emergency department, the Citizen Times reported Oct. 26.

AdventHealth Hendersonville and AdventHealth Asheville appealed the CON application for Mission Health's planned $29 million freestanding ED in Candler, N.C., which is about 11 miles west of Asheville. 

Mission Health, which Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA acquired for $1.5 billion in 2019, said the ER will provide patients west of Asheville an emergency option closer to home and help reduce the number of patients traveling to Mission Hospital's main ER for emergency treatment. The health system had previously earned approval for the ED but an administrative judge reversed the decision following an appeal from AdventHealth. 

The judge overturned the decision because the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services did not hold a public hearing prior to awarding a green light for the project.

In a separate decision, the judge reversed HCA's application for a freestanding ED in Arden, N.C., which NCDHHS appealed to the state court of appeals, according to the Citizen Times.

"We understand the need for more convenient access to care for the families in our community," AdventHealth spokesperson Victoria Dunkle told Becker's. "Not only are we ready to provide that increased access, but we are ready to do so by expanding healthcare choice."

In November, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services approved AdventHealth's bid to build a $254 million, 67-bed acute care hospital in the Candler area. 

AdventHealth officials say that residents of the community want "choice and competition," and the health system is responding to their calls.

HCA pushed back against AdventHealth's decision to appeal the freestanding ED, arguing that emergency rooms across the country are seeing an influx of patients and longer wait times post-pandemic. 

"This ER is an imminent solution to help meet the needs of our community and bring additional access to emergency care in Buncombe County," Nancy Lindell, a spokesperson for HCA, told Becker's. "It is disappointing other hospitals that regularly send their patients to Mission for a higher level of care would actively work to stop better access to emergent care for our communities."

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