South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
Edgar A. Brown building 1205 Pendleton St., Suite 224 Columbia, SC 29201 Voice: (803) 734-0550

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

CAPTION:
Laurens County Health Care System vs. SCDHEC

AGENCY:
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

PARTIES:
Petitioner:
Laurens County Health Care System

Respondent:
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

Intervenor:
Martha Franks Baptist Retirement Center, NHC HealthCare, Laurens, and NHC HealthCare, Clinton
 
DOCKET NUMBER:
98-ALJ-07-0113-CC

APPEARANCES:
South Carolina Department of Health
and Environmental Control
By: Elizabeth Potter
Its: Staff Counsel

Laurens County Health Care System
By: Francis P. Mood
Its: Attorney
 

ORDERS:

CONSENT ORDER

This contested case hearing is before this Court on appeal of a decision dated January 30,

1999, of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control ("DHEC" or

"Department") to deny a certificate of need ("CON") to the Laurens County Health Care System

("LCHCS" or "Hospital") to convert fourteen (14) beds licensed as general hospital beds to

hospital based beds licensed as skilled nursing beds ("SNF") which will not participate in the

Medicaid (Title XIX) Program, thereby reducing the number of licensed general hospital beds at

LCHCS from 90 beds to 76 beds. The CON was filed under the "1996 South Carolina Health

Plan" ("Plan").

DHEC denied the CON on the basis that:

1. It is in the best interest of the public that none of the existing general acute care beds at Laurens County Hospital be converted to nursing home beds at this time. The determination is based on a review of demographic data which indicates a growing trend in the population of Laurens County and the trend of increased utilization of the acute hospital to such an extent that the community will need the continued availability of the existing 90 general hospital beds at the facility; and;

2. Although the Department is aware of physician support and Laurens County Council's support, there remains substantial opposition from the community. This includes community leaders, such as the county legislative delegation and Laurens City Council, who expressed concern regarding the approval of this project.

LCHCS appealed that Department's denial and requested a contested case hearing in the Administrative Law Judge Division. On March 25, 1998, Martha Franks Baptist Retirement Center ("Martha Franks") and NHC/OP, L.P. d/b/a NHC HealthCare Laurens and NHC HealthCare Clinton (collectively "NHC") filed a Notice of Motion and Motion to Intervene as party Respondents in this proceeding pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of Procedure for the Administrative Law Judge Division. This Motion was granted on April 15, 1998. Subsequently, Martha Franks and NHC, by letter of counsel dated February 11, 1999, withdrew as parties to this proceeding, thereby withdrawing their opposition to this project.

LCHCS and DHEC, as evidenced by their consent hereto, reached an agreement for the settlement of the contested issues in this case. The Department is now satisfied that the facts underlying the reasons previously given for project denial no longer require that conclusion. Therefore, the terms of the settlement include reversal of the decision of the Department denying the certificate of need sought by LCHCS for the conversion of 14 general acute care beds to 14 hospital-based SNF beds.

Therefore, this Court orders that the decision of DHEC in Docket No. 98-ALJ-07-0113-CC denying a certificate of need for the conversion of 14 general acute care beds of LCHCS to 14 hospital based SNF beds is reversed by agreement of the parties and the consent of this court. DHEC is hereby ordered to issue, not later than thirty (30) days after entry of this Order, a certificate of need in this Docket for the conversion of 14 general hospital beds to 14 hospital based SNF beds for a total capacity of 76 general acute care beds and 14 hospital based nursing home beds.

AND IT IS SO ORDERED THIS 17th DAY OF February, 1999.

John D. Geathers

Associate Administrative Law Judge


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