Wednesday, September 24, 2008

State Issues Certificate of Need for Ambulatory Care Center

The Georgia Department of Community Health has issued a Certificate of Need to the Medical College of Georgia Physicians Practice Group to build an ambulatory care center in Columbia County.

The Certificate of Need is a state-required license for health care services and equipment used to regulate the purchase of expensive medical equipment and control the distribution of health care resources across the state.

The planned $34 million, 65,000-square-foot facility, called MCG Medical Associates Ambulatory Care Center, would be located on Washington Road in Evans, near William Few Parkway. The proposed facility would house three operating rooms, two procedure rooms, an imaging center with a CT scanner and a clinic with 45 exam rooms. MCG specialists will provide a wide range of services from primary care to outpatient procedures and therapies, diagnostic lab tests and imaging and outpatient endoscopic and surgical procedures.

While both the state and the Physicians Practice Group acknowledged that there was not a population-based need for new ambulatory surgery operating rooms, the certificate was approved because the facility will provide an additional site for clinical service, physician training and patient-oriented research.

"This facility will exist to support the clinical, educational and research missions of the institution,” says Dr. Curt Steinhart, president and chief executive officer of Physicians Practice Group. “It will be a community-based practice, where faculty provide patient services in a setting where residents and students can learn. Exposure to both hospital and ambulatory care settings is opportune because so much of health care is moving to an ambulatory setting. We need to train our students and residents in environments like those they’ll practice in, otherwise it will be foreign to them.”

“This will be an invaluable resource as MCG looks to expand in this area,” adds Dr. D. Douglas Miller, dean of the School of Medicine and chief clinical officer at MCG. “Its completion will enable us to hire more faculty and give existing faculty more places to practice. It will also give our students and residents more opportunities for training and provide the people who receive care there access to important clinical research. As the state’s largest provider of medical education, it is important that we remain on the front line in addressing the physician shortage. This facility will be an important part of that.”

In supporting the institution’s clinical mission, the new facility will feature the newest and best technology available, Dr. Steinhart says.

“Physicians want to practice in facilities with the best equipment and facilities that create the efficiencies that make their practice as productive as possible,” he says. “And that is the type of environment patients want to come to. This ambulatory care environment will provide the type of environment that will attract the patients that will serve as the foundation for enhanced clinical service, educational opportunities for our trainees and venues for clinical research.”

The Certificate of Need process is subject to appeal over the next month, so a groundbreaking date has not been set. “However, we will continue to move forward with our planning,” Dr. Steinhart says.

By Jennifer Hilliard
Medical College of Georgia

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