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Controversy Continues Between Two Harnett County Hospitals

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DUNN, N.C. — Construction for a new Good Hope Hospital has not even begun, but the hospital is at the center of a heated debate.

Betsy Johnson Hospital In Dunn just completed a multimillion-dollar expansion, so patients will not have to share rooms. They will begin moving Monday.

"Building this was a response to the community needs," said Al Taylor of Betsy Johnson Hospital.

Then, there is Good Hope in Erwin, just a few miles away. It wants to replace the hospital, built in 1913, with a new hospital in Lillington.

"We are trying to prepare for the future also to an area where the population is increasing at a faster rate than in the eastern part of the county," said Jerry Ennis, of Good Hope Hospital.

The state turned Good Hope's application down, saying there is not enough hospital demand. Good Hope appealed to the courts and is now waiting for a decision.

Betsy Johnson put off its expansion for over a year, hoping merger talks between the two hospitals would come through. When talks failed, Betsy Johnson felt it could no longer wait.

Betsy Johnson is still open to talks. Good Hope officials said the idea is not dead in the water, but a new hospital would have to be more centrally located even if the hospitals do not agree. What is alarming to both hospitals is that more than 50 percent of county residents leave Harnett County to seek health services.

Even if the Court of Appeals rules against Good Hope, its plan for a new hospital is not over yet. Gov. Mike Easley agrees a new hospital is needed in a more central part of the county. Any hospital interested, including Good Hope, can apply for a new certificate of need beginning in August.


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