Local News

Two Harnett County Hospitals Disagree About Future Expansion Plans

Posted September 29, 2003 5:45 a.m. EDT

— The Division of Facility Services rejected a bid by Good Hope Hospital to build a new facility in Lillington. Despite rapid growth in western Harnett County, state leaders could not justify the need for a new hospital in Lillington. It is a health-care debate that highlights a long-standing feud between Good Hope and Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital.

By modern health-care standards, Good Hope Hospital in Erwin needs to be improved. Don Annis, chief executive officer at Good Hope Hospital, said the hospital's electrical and plumbing systems are outdated. Sometimes, four patients will share bathrooms.

"If you build a hospital today, no one would build a 7-foot (wide) corridor, because it's unsafe," said Don Annis, chief executive officer at Good Hope Hospital. "We think there are long-term issues that need to be addressed regarding patient safety," he said.

Annis compares the slate-roofed building to an antique car.

"It makes no sense for us to try and retrofit a 1921 automobile to today's standards," he said.

For that reason, Good Hope wants to build a new $35 million facility twice its current size on a site in Lillington. They are teaming with a for-profit company called Triad.

Betsy Johnson Regional in Dunn opposes Good Hope's expansion plans. They are spending $31 million on their own expansion.

"The ability for us to support this level of investments in two separate hospitals is very difficult," said Al Taylor, chief executive officer at Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital.

"I believe Betsy Johnson is opposing us because they feel threatened," Annis said.

Lillington Town Commissioner Marianne Stump does not want anyone to get in the way of a new hospital. She and many others now plan to boycott Dunn businesses that oppose the plan, including Betsy Johnson.

"The reason to take it to that extent is, they're taking things away from the rest of the county," she said.

The state Division of Facility Services has approved a certificate of need for a replacement to Good Hope Hospital. However, it is not twice as large in Lillington. Officials with Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital said they hope to soon merge with its rival.

Good Hope plans to appeal the state's decision and fight it out in court if necessary.