Appeals Court upholds Canton hospital move

Published 8:28 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday sided with the Mississippi Department of Health in upholding the relocation of Madison County Medical Center from Mississippi 16 East to near the Nissan plant along Interstate 55.

The certificate of need granted by MDH in October 2005 was opposed by St. Dominic Health Systems. St. Dominic had argued before the Appeals Court in January that a Florida company failed to prove it needed to build a new hospital in Madison County.

Health Management Associates of Naples, Fla., plans a $42 million facility across from the Nissan auto plant. HMA has a 40-year lease with the county to operate the Madison County Medical Center.

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St. Dominic, which owns St. Dominic/Jackson Memorial Hospital, appealed MDH’s decision to Hinds County Chancery Court. Chancellor William Singletary ruled for HMA in February 2006. St. Dominic appealed again.

St. Dominic argued that HMA admitted it could spend less money by renovating at the current location.

HMA argued that the Canton hospital, built in 1965, has trouble attracting doctors and can’t provide some services — such as outpatient care — from the current location.

Appeals Judge Joseph Lee, writing Tuesday for the court, said there was substantial evidence to support the CON for the Madison County hospital.

“We agree with the chancellor that at the hearing and in its application Madison HMA sufficiently demonstrated the deficiencies in its current location and its reasons for needing a new facility,” Lee said. “Madison HMA provided evidence of its long-term plans and the recommendations of consulting firms regarding the appropriateness of the relocation.”

St. Dominic and HMA have a long history of legal battles over health care in central Mississippi.

In September 2005, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld MDH’s denial of St. Dominic’s plans for a $35 million acute-care hospital on the grounds of St. Catherine’s Village in Madison. That proposal was opposed by HMA.

The two hospital companies clashed in previous years over HMA’s construction of a new hospital in north Jackson before the new facility was approved by the state. A CON for the new facility was ultimately denied and the building was closed.

The companies also fought over an earlier HMA proposal to move the Canton beds to the facility in north Jackson.

HMA owns Central Mississippi Medical Center, River Oaks Hospital and Women’s Hospital, all in Jackson.

To control costs, avoid duplication of services and protect existing health care providers from competition, states control the building of hospitals and other major health care facilities through the issuance of CONs.

The process controls the number of hospitals and other medical institutions throughout a state. Officials favoring the rules say they promote economic efficiency.