Health planners give ok for new hospital in Hoover

Published 3:17 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

State health planners unanimously voted yes today to a plan that would allow a hospital to be built in Hoover.

“This is just the first step, but without this first step we couldn’t move forward,” said Mayor Tony Petelos.

The first step meant amending the State Health Plan to allow a hospital to be built in any city with at least 60,000 residents. The change allows this to occur even if the city is located in a county that already has too many beds. Hoover sits in both Shelby and Jefferson Counties and with multiple hospitals in the Birmingham area, Jefferson County holds close to 150 excess beds.

Petelos said he believed the city, interested parties and citizens made their need known.

“I truly believe the fact that we are the largest city in the state without a hospital made an impact,” Petelos said.

Hoover now includes a population of more than 70,000 residents and Petelos doesn’t expect that number to decrease.

“Plus, as the population shift continues and we continue growing, we’re going to continue to see our residents’ travel times to a hospital in Birmingham increase,” Petelos said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

Health systems like Baptist Health, Brookwood Medical, St. Vincent’s and Trinity all believe they have plans that do make sense. If the amendment to the State Health Plan gains approval from both Gov. Bob Riley and the state legislature, the four systems will get their chance to submit plans.

So far, Baptist Health has pitched the idea of building a 140-bed facility at its Princeton Hoover site off Interstate 459, while Brookwood has purchased property in the Greystone area off Highway 280 and has mentioned the possibility of locating its own facility there. St. Vincent’s opposes that plan because that would place Brookwood’s facility directly in front of St. Vincent’s own One Nineteen Health and Wellness facility, where St. Vincent’s plans to locate a freestanding emergency department. Finally, Trinity Medical Center jumped into the mix just months ago with its planned move to the U.S. 280 Corridor.

“The hard decision will be on them (state health planners) to decide who has the best plans to be able to move forward,” Petelos said. “We just need to continue to make it an issue that Hoover needs closer medical care.”