Doctors, University Hospitals battle over first Columbia Co. ER - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Doctors, University Hospitals battle over first Columbia Co. ER

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Columbia County, GA (WFXG) -

Columbia County is the largest county in Georgia without a hospital or emergency center.

That may soon change.

Both Doctors and University Hospitals have filed Certificates of Need to the Department of Community Health for a Columbia County Emergency Room facility.

"Let's take it where the people are. Let's take it to Columbia County," explains Doctors Hospital CEO Doug Welch. "It'd be huge. The time to get treatment would be a lot shorter."

Doctors' bid is for a $9.6 million, 12 bed facility.

University's proposal is similar- $9.67 million with 18 beds.

Both hospitals say the new facility is needed to help serve the rising number of patients.

"The amount of patients we've seen in the last two years has grown tremendously," says Welch. He says Doctors Hospital has seen nearly 14% growth in ER visits.

"Really, the cost to expand here on campus would be extraordinary," Welch adds.

University says their ER numbers continue to rise as well.

If granted the facility, University plans to build on land near the Columbia County campus on Bel Air Rd.

Doctors says they'd like to put their facility on N Bel Air Rd. near the Evans Fitness Club.

Both hospitals admit the Department of Community Health is only likely to grant one proposal.

"I would be very surprised if the state grants two applications," says Welch. "It would probably be one or none."

Now both hospitals await the state's decision. They'll likely know January 25.

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