Hospital asks for hearing delay

A hearing in Shelby County Circuit Court has been postponed at the request of Shelby Baptist Medical Center.

The hospital filed a civil suit against the State Health Planning and Development Agency (SHPDA) after being denied a request to begin open-heart services at Shelby Baptist.

In accordance with state law, any hospital in Alabama must be approved by SHPDA before introducing extra hospital services.

SBMC originally filed for a certificate of need from the agency in August 2000.

Brookwood Hospital in Birmingham contested Shelby Baptist’s request on the grounds that another open-heart facility would dilute the area’s open-heart resources.

On April 17, the Certificate of Need Review Board voted 4-2 to deny SBMC’s request.

The board voted against Shelby Baptist despite the recommendation of administrative law judge Raymond Bell to grant the hospital approval.

As part of the certificate of need process, Bell sat before six days of hearings that produced more than 18,000 pages of testimony.

The CON review board returned the decision to deny the request after 20 minutes of testimony at its April 17 hearing.

SBMC filed suit, calling the CON board’s decision &uot;arbitrary and capricious.&uot;

The hospital asked the judge for a delay when attorneys were unable to meet a reply-to-counterbriefs deadline.

According to hospital spokesperson Marty Murphy, after SBMC filed its brief, the defendants were allowed to file counterbriefs.

Following the counterbriefs, SBMC is allowed to file a reply.

The deadline for the reply was Wednesday, Nov. 20, and feeling they did not have enough time, hospital attorneys asked the judge to postpone the hearing which was set for Monday.

&uot;They didn’t believe that would give the judge enough time to fully review their reply anyway,&uot; Murphy said, indicating SBMC attorneys believe the chances for success would be greater after the delay.

Murphy said the hearing before Shelby County Circuit Judge Hub Harrington will most likely be postponed until after the holidays