Local News

Franklin Hospital's Proposed Move Sparks Debate

Posted January 16, 2008 7:59 p.m. EST
Updated January 16, 2008 8:20 p.m. EST

— People in Franklin County got to speak their minds during a public hearing Wednesday about Franklin Regional Medical Center's proposed move.

Hospital administrators want to move the hospital from its current location on U.S. Highway 401 in Louisburg to a site in Youngsville.

If the plan goes forward, Franklin Regional would move farther away from the county's poorest areas and closer to two other hospitals in northern Wake County. The current 8-acre Louisburg site has been treating patients for 55 years.

”This is all about trying to get closer to Wake County where there's much richer folks [who] certainly can pay more money,” Louisburg Mayor Pro-Tem Boyd Sturges said.

Hospital administrators said the move to Youngsville is necessary to accommodate the county's growing population. The $103 million proposed hospital would include 188,000 square feet of space and provide 70 acute-care beds and three operating rooms.

“Having a local, state-of-the-art medical center in Franklin County could add years to our lives,” former Franklinton Mayor Jenny Edwards said.

“This will be a shining star within the community. We will be able to recruit more specialists and have more doctors,” said Franklin Regional Chief Executive Officer Brian Gwyn.

The state rejected Franklin Regional's first certificate-of-need application this summer. Then, Rex Hospital joined Franklin Regional's push for the new facility, and Franklin filed a new application. The opposition's argument remains the same: would the move hinder care for the elderly and underprivileged people of Franklin County? Opponents argue they may have a difficult time traveling to a non-central location.

“What's going to happen to the people in the remote areas of the county?" Louisburg Town Council member Bill Williamson asked.

Those in favor said Franklin Regional can't afford not to make the move.

“With a brand new set of resources ... you create an environment that new physicians want to work there,” said David Strong, President of Rex Healthcare.

Rex Hospital and Franklin Regional recently conducted a poll in Franklin County. According to the results, 70 percent of residents were in favor of the proposed move. Louisburg town officials discounted the results, however, claiming the poll questions were skewed in favor of the move.

State regulators are expected to decide on the move in April.