Shelby Baptist plans first open heart surgery

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Shelby Baptist Medical Center expects to perform its first open heart surgery the week of Aug. 31.

And to that end, the hospital has taken steps to insure it is able to perform the procedure in the future despite ongoing challenges from Brookwood Medical Center.

While Brookwood Medical Center is seeking remedy through the civil courts against the certificate of need issued to SBMC by the State Health Planning and Development Agency in July, the hospital recently received support from the Statewide Health Coordinating Council (SHCC) that will make it easier to fend off challenges in the future.

The State Health Plan states, &uot;There shall be no additional adult open heart units initiated unless each existing unit in the county is operating and is expected to continue to operate at a minimum of 350 adult heart operations per year.&uot;

But on a vote of 14-7 on Aug. 5, the board added the following wording, &uot;… provided that, to insure availability and accessibility, one adult open heart unit shall be deemed needed in each county not having an open heart surgery unit in which the current population estimate (as published from time to time by the Center for Business and Economic Research, University of Alabama) exceeds 150,000 without consideration of other facilities, wherever located.&uot;

Charles &uot;Chuck&uot; Colbert, president of SBMC, said changes in the wording mean even if Brookwood is successful in getting the certificate of need taken away through the civil courts, it will be easier for the Shelby Baptist to apply and be granted the certificate of need again.

He said the new wording in the State Health Plan &uot;supports Shelby’s case.&uot;

Colbert said from this point, a public hearing will be held on the State Health Plan on Oct. 14. He said the plan will be published in the September Administration Monthly and public comments will be due by Oct. 5.

Colbert suggested those interesting in expressing support for the change in wording in favor of Shelby Baptist contact their state representatives.

&uot;We are very pleased and thankful to the State Health Care Coordinating Council for their forward thinking and planning health care for Shelby County and we would specifically like to thank our state representatives for the part they played.&uot;

Colbert thanked Connie Haydoc, a member of SHCC) who lives in Shelby County, State Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, Cam Ward and State Sen. Hank Erwin for their support and guidance in this newest effort to expand the services of SBMC.

Dr. L. Shefton Riggins, director of the cardiac surgery program at SBMC, called the change in the State Health Plan &uot;significant&uot; not only for the citizens of Shelby County but also for the entire state.

He said it will allow hospitals in conjunction with physicians to decide the best form of healthcare for citizens.

Riggins said this will also give SBMC the ability to expand services without a long, drawn out certificate of need process.

Colbert said Dr. Riggins performs more open heart surgery procedures than any other private practice physician in metropolitan Birmingham.

He said he anticipates Brookwood’s efforts in the civil courts will take seven to eight months to complete.

On July 13, Circuit Court Judge Benjamin A. Fuller wrote in his final order, &uot; … the (Certificate of Need) board’s denial of Shelby Baptist’s open heart application is due to the be reversed.&uot;

Judge Fuller ruled that the board &uot;acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner, abused its discretion and issued a ruling which was clearly erroneous.&uot;

Brookwood appealed the decision, which was then reheard in Autauga County and Judge Riggins upheld his decision on July 23. Since that time, Brookwood is appealing the decision through the civil courts.

As to the planned open heart procedure to be done by SBMC the week of Aug. 31, Colbert said Brookwood did not ask for a stay of the certificate of need