Court rules against Shelby Baptist Medical Center

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The state Court of Civil Appeals has dealt the Shelby Baptist Medical Center’s open-heart surgery program a blow. But according to hospital officials, the fight continues on two fronts.

And the community continues to show support for the program.

Ross Mitchell, vice president of marketing and planning for the Baptist Health System, said the system learned Friday that the state Court of Civil Appeals turned down a request by SBMC to re-consider its ruling in favor of Brookwood Hospital opposing open-heart surgery at SBMC.

The hospital had been granted a certificate of need for the procedures, which Brookwood opposed.

This past August, the hospital celebrated the open-heart surgery program’s first anniversary.

When the State Health Planning and Development Agency sided with Brookwood, SBMC took the matter to court.

A judge ruled in favor of SBMC that the certificate of need should be granted. Brookwood appealed and the state Court of Civil Appeals decided in Brookwood’s favor.

On Friday, the state Court of Civil Appeals denied a request to reconsider its decision.

Mitchell said SBMC would next seek action from the state Supreme Court.

Scott Williams, interim president of Shelby Baptist, explained that since the state Court of Civil Appeals turned down the hospital’s request for reconsideration, the hospital would now ask the state Supreme Court for a ruling regarding the administrative law judge’s original decision to grant SBMC a certificate of need for the open-heart surgery program and related procedures.

Mitchell also noted, &8220;This does not interrupt our open-heart surgery (program) and comprehensive heart services.&8221;

In the meantime, according to information provided by April Holcomb of SBMC marketing and planning, a public hearing has been set for Jan. 18 on a new request for a CON for open-heart surgery by SBMC.

That hearing will be held at 10 a.m. at the state capitol in Montgomery. And the outcome will determine if open-heart surgery and heart stenting will be allowed to continue at SBMC.

Holcomb reported that about 2,500 concerned citizens and elected officials have expressed their support for SBMC’s heart surgery certificate of need.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, nearly 33,000 copies representing almost 2,500 letters from citizens, physicians and elected officials as well as resolutions passed by cities and counties were delivered to the SHPDA in Montgomery.

SBMC officials said the volume of support letters stunned SHPDA officials.

Included in the letters were written testimonials from concerned citizens supporting the continuation of open-heart services at SBMC and the importance of it to the residents of Shelby County.

Letters were also included from residents of Chilton and Bibb counties which highlighted their added distance from other hospital locations in the area