When JT Barnhart, CEO of Clearview Regional Medical Center, heads downtown Monday to oppose the Certificate of Need being sought by Eastside Medical to open a 10-bed emergency facility in Loganville, he will have some help. According to Loanville resident Gail Buell, there also is grassroots opposition growing in the community against the proposed 24/7 emergency facility on Highway 81.
"There are nearly 600 homes plus schools and churches virtually within walking distance of the property. Sadly, many of those affected are not even aware that they are soon to have such a busy or noisy place right in their own back yards," Buell said, adding they will have a representive in downtown Atlanta to add their voices to that of Barnhart. Buell said they have collected signatures in support of their opposition to the CON.
"This facility will have three ambulance bays, 10 beds and two holding cells. They will accept any patient arriving in an ambulance regardless of their problem. If, however, it is something like a heart attack or stroke or other illness so serious that the patient needs to be admitted to a hospital, that patient will be put back into an ambulance and then taken to a hospital, thus incurring two ambulance fees and two ER fees," Buell said. "We already have two hospital emergency rooms close by, one in Monroe, which is nine miles away, and one in Snellville, which is 12 miles away. Another factor is the negative, possibly criminal, connotation of the term 'holding cells.' We must think about that, plus, the fact that almost anyone arriving in an ambulance will also have an entourage of their family and friends, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."
Buell said their concerns include noise, the potential negative elements and the traffic.
"Highway 81 S is a very busy two-lane highway that is often very difficult to navigate due to the number of vehicles. It often takes quite a long time to even pull out onto that street and there are no traffic lights at all along that section," Buell said. "If this is something that Loganville MUST have, put it out on Highway 78."
The city of Loganville has already offered a resolution in support of the facility. Officials told Barnhart at the last city council meeting that they had to put the citizens of Loganville first. Barnhart detailed the expense already undertaken by Clearview Regional Medical Center and the potential impact the Eastside Emergency Facility would have on the Walton County hospital.
In the summer, the associate chief operating officer of Eastside Medical Center, Drew Tyrer, advised Loganville officials that the company had applied for the CON for the proposed ER, which would be the first of its kind in Georgia. Tryer said the 10-bed unit would be staffed 24/7, would have a trauma room, a decontamination room and ambulance bays for EMS rescue and transfer to another facility, if necessary. There would be access to CT scanners and X-ray and it would be an extension of the Eastside Imaging Center already located on Highway 81. He said, if approved, the facility would bring 38 new health care jobs to the city.
When he advised the Loganville City Council of his intention to oppose Eastside's CON, Barnhart pointed out in its new hospital opened in Monroe this year, Clearview had added 60 news positions, half of which were nurses, and about 20 new doctors.