Second city hospital planned
Crestwood CEO: We welcome the competition
By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
Huntsville Hospital wants to build a full-service hospital in Madison and plans to have the facility opened and ready to serve the community by the end of 2004 or the first of 2005.
Those plans has Crestwood Medical Center CEO Brad Jones, who also plans to build a full-service hospital in the city calling it "open competition" that he welcomes.
Following Crestwood Medical Center's announcement of its plans to build a full-service hospital in Madison, Huntsville Hospital officials say they've got plans to build a $61.4 million hospital at U.S. Highway 72 and Balch Road.
A meeting set for Thursday, Aug. 29, in Montgomery that could have allowed additional beds placed in Madison County has been delayed. Crestwood Medical Center officials had planned to go to Montgomery with its request for the Statewide Health Coordinating Council to approve allowing additional hospital bed space in the county. It is Crestwood's first hurdle to cross before acquiring a certificate of need to build a Madison facility. A new date for that meeting has not been set.
Huntsville Hospital doesn't need such an approval by the SHCC because its plans are to move beds out of its Huntsville campus to the new Madison complex.
According to Huntville Hospital CEO Joe Austin, the intent to build a full-service hospital in Madison has been planned for a long time, but after hearing Crestwood's intent to build a 120-bed facility in the city, the timetable has been moved up.
"Our initial plans to build a full-service hospital in Madison would not be for another two to three years, but with Crestwood stepping up to the plate with its plans, we've moved our timetable up. It makes good, business sense."
Huntsville Hospital already owns 25 acres of property at Highway 72 and Balch Road – where a medical office building is located and where a wellness center will be built in 2003. Austin said Huntsville Hospital would move 120 beds out of its Huntsville campus and the hospital has already been given the go-ahead through a zoning variance to build on the site.
Crestwood's plans to build a hospital in Madison have officials at neighboring Athens-Limestone Hospital concerned over the possible closure of that facility. Austin said he has been in contact with Athens-Limestone Hospital CEO Phil Dotson to inform him of Huntsville Hospital's plans.
Austin said Dotson told him he would oppose any hospital being built in Madison.
"I do not disagree that a hospital in Madison would have an impact on the Athens hospital, but I believe it would be only a short-term impact since Limestone County and Athens continues to grow in population," Austin said. "Building a hospital in Madison will have an impact – not only on our Huntsville campus, but all of the neighboring hospitals. But I believe it would be a short-term."
Jones said he welcomes the competition and he will let the residents of Madison voice their comments as to who they want in their community.
"We want what's best for the Madison community. The need for a hospital exists and we welcome the competition from Huntsville Hospital – or anyone," Jones said. "There are a number of determining factors that will come into play as to who will be able to build a hospital in Madison. As a result of those determining factors, it will be a couple of years or so before one is actually built. We have a couple of hurdles to cross before we can move forward and Huntsville Hospital has a hurdle to cross as well. Crestwood Medical Center will continue in its pursuit with the Statewide Health Coordinating Council with our quest to get the additional beds added to Madison County and we will go from there."
Madison Mayor Jan Wells said the need for a hospital in the city exists and the need for quick access to a hospital is now.
"I'm delighted that the need is being taken seriously and although I don't have a timeline as to when a hospital will actually be built in Madison, I am very happy that we have both Huntsville Hospital and Crestwood Medical Center showing interest now in building a hospital as soon as possible."