Certificate of need process a hindrance

By JAN GRIFFEY / Editor

Last week, after arriving home from work, I discovered one of the cats for which I provide care had been badly injured and needed immediate veterinary care.

It was after typical vet clinic hours, so I gathered him up, put him in his carrier and took off for the emergency clinic, located on Acton Road in Jefferson County.

Much of the typical after-work traffic had subsided, but during my 40-minute drive, I did encounter some congestion. I kept a hand on the top of the carrier, which was on my front passenger’s seat, and tried to soothe my ailing cat during the tense drive.

As I was stopped in traffic on I-65 near Pelham, listening to his pitiful cries and sending up myriad prayers for his well being, I thought to myself, “What if this was an injured child I was trying to get to an emergency room?”

It dawned on me that parents and others who live in south Shelby County, as I do, must experience this same heart-wrenching situation often while trying to negotiate traffic and get their sick children to a hospital.

It boggles the mind that we have only one hospital located in Alabama’s most progressive and affluent county.

If you live in south Shelby County, particularly along the U.S. 280 corridor, you have no access to immediate medical care. God forbid you have a sick child or a loved one who suffers a heart attack during rush hour.

We hope the clearing of the way for Trinity to open its hospital on U.S. 280 will help the plight of those in the southern part of the county.

Trinity should have not have needed to spend the millions of dollars it has just to get approval to open its hospital.

What’s the answer for those who live in south Shelby County and the rest of Alabama? It’s doing away with Alabama’s antiquated certificate of need system of approval for medical care facilities.

Let hospitals and others who now must seek a certificate of need in order to do business face the same supply and demand aspects of capitalism that other businesses face.

Competition is a good thing, even when it comes to health care. Alabama should join the more than 15 other states that let the health care industry live or die by those same market principles that drive other businesses and industries.

Jan Griffey is the Editor for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 36 or by email at Jan.Griffey@shelbycountyreporter.com.