By Colin Luke
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings
Finally, the residents on the 280 corridor may get some relief and obtain their long-awaited medical center!
The long-running battle by Brookwood and St. Vincents to stop a competing hospital from relocating to the half completed former HealthSouth Hospital on Highway 280 is in its final chapter. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has scheduled oral arguments on October 23 to hear the appeal by the State Health Planning & Development Agency (“SHPDA”) and Trinity Medical Center from Montgomery District Judge’s reversal of SHPDA’s unanimous decision approving this project. This appeal was joined by the Business Council of Alabama, Greystone Residential Association and the Shelby County Economic & Industrial Authority when they filed amicus briefs in support of Trinity and SHPDA’s position.
Trinity’s relocation efforts were approved by Administrative Law Judge James Hampton after the longest certificate of need hearing in Alabama’s history. Trinity received support from over 110 physicians (including many who work at Brookwood and St. Vincents) and numerous business leaders in and around the Birmingham, Jefferson County, and Shelby County areas. Importantly, many residents and emergency medical personnel testified about the dire need for a hospital on the 280 corridor and life-threatening drives down 280 past the proposed Trinity site to other hospitals. Trinity filed its CON application for this project in December of 2008.
Birmingham area contractors and subs are anxiously awaiting approval for this massive construction project which is described by noted economist Keivan Deravi as having the impact of a major automobile plant in the Birmingham area. Completion of the 60% finished state-of-the art hospital for Trinity’s relocation will keep hundreds of construction workers busy for up to eighteen months. Trinity’s relocation will also cause the construction of a large professional office building next to the new hospital as well as an upscale hotel above the Cahaba Grand conference center.
Brookwood and St. Vincents oppose Trinity’s relocation for competitive reasons and are not confident in their ability to convince patients and physicians to choose Brookwood and St. Vincents after Trinity’s relocation. Brookwood has historically opposed any significant effort by Trinity (formerly Baptist Montclair) to update or relocate its current campus.
The Court of Civil Appeals has expedited its consideration of this important decision and should issue an opinion by the end of the year.