Proposed Pelham hospital on ‘holding pattern’

Rehab hospitals proposed by HealthSouth, pictured, and Shelby Ridge are pending a pair of court decisions. (File)

Rehab hospitals proposed by HealthSouth, pictured, and Shelby Ridge are pending a pair of court decisions. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Court decisions on a proposed HealthSouth rehabilitation hospital in Pelham could come in the next few months after a pair of upcoming hearings on the matter in early 2014.

The state’s Certificate of Need Review Board agreed in July 2012 to create 17 new beds to be used by HealthSouth for its proposed rehabilitation hospital, but the decision was later appealed by several area nursing homes, including Columbiana Health and Rehabilitation and Shelby Ridge in Alabaster.

In late April, Montgomery Circuit Court Judge William Shashy ordered the CON board to award the 17 beds to Shelby Ridge instead of HealthSouth, which is looking to use the beds to fill half of a proposed 34-bed rehabilitation hospital in Pelham.

If awarded the beds, Shelby Ridge plans to use them to fill a new 17-bed rehabilitation hospital on its property behind Shelby Baptist Medical Center, said Shelby Ridge Owner Chris Schmidt.

After Shashy’s ruling, HealthSouth appealed his decision. The matter is now before the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and is pending an upcoming oral argument, during which HealthSouth and Shelby Ridge representatives will be able to voice their opinions on the matter.

In a Dec. 18 email, HealthSouth Associate Director of Communications Casey Lassiter said she expected a decision from the Court of Civil Appeals in April or May 2014.

In January, the CON board voted to allow HealthSouth to move 17 beds from the now-closed Carraway Medical Center in Birmingham to Shelby County to be used in the proposed Pelham project.

The CON’s board to transfer the former Carrarway beds to Shelby County currently is pending a decision by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Eugene Reese.

In an email, Lassiter said Reese has scheduled a hearing on the matter on Jan. 13, and said Reese’s decision could come in the spring of 2014.

In mid-May, the Shelby County Commission filed a motion in support of the HealthSouth project, claiming it would allow Shelby County residents easier access to rehabilitation services, and claiming the HealthSouth project has “widespread and unanimous” support in the county.