CON board sides with HealthSouth on Pelham hospital

The Alabama Health Planning and Development Agency’s Certificate of Need board approved a HealthSouth request to move 17 beds from Jefferson to Shelby County to use in a proposed 34-bed inpatient rehab hospital in Pelham. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A state Certificate of Need review board sided with HealthSouth during a Jan. 16 hearing, moving the company one step closer to constructing a 34-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Pelham.

During the hearing, the CON review board approved HealthSouth’s request to transfer 17 HealthSouth-owned beds from the now-closed Carraway Medical Center in Birmingham to Shelby County.

HealthSouth will use the 17 beds to fill half of the proposed 34-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital, which the company is looking to construct on a now-vacant lot across Interstate 65 from the Colonial Pipeline tank farm.

The State Health Planning and Development Agency’s CON review board set the Jan. 16 hearing after HealthSouth appealed a ruling issued in Dec. 17, 2012 by administrative law judge Stan McDonald.

In the ruling, McDonald encouraged the CON review board to deny HealthSouth’s request to move the 17 beds from Jefferson to Shelby County. McDonald claimed “there are available less costly, more efficient or more appropriate alternatives to HealthSouth’s project,” and alleged “HealthSouth’s project would have significant detrimental impact on existing providers if its project was approved.”

A group of more than 100 HealthSouth supporters, including a group from the Pelham Senior Center, traveled to Montgomery to attend the hearing, said HealthSouth spokesperson Casey Lassiter.

The CON review board previously agreed to create 17 new beds in Shelby County to be used to complete the Pelham rehabilitation hospital. The CON board’s decision to create the 17 new beds recently was appealed by several area nursing homes, including Columbiana Health and Rehabilitation and Shelby Ridge.

Representatives from the nursing homes previously claimed the HealthSouth hospital will negatively impact their businesses, and said their facilities already offer the same services slated to be offered at the HealthSouth hospital.

The CON review board has not yet set a hearing date to rule on the nursing homes’ appeal.

“We are trying to expedite that process as much as possible,” Lassiter said, noting the company will move forward with constructing the hospital after the CON board rules on the nursing homes’ appeal. “We already own the land, we have a plan in place and we are ready to go.”