Franklin hospital owners drop plans for Youngsville facility
Posted April 30, 2010 5:33 p.m. EDT
Louisburg, N.C. — The company that operates Franklin Regional Medical Center said Friday that a three-year effort to move the hospital from Louisburg to Youngsville is over.
Franklin Regional wanted to move from its location on U.S. Highway 401 in Louisburg to a site in Youngsville to accommodate the county's growing population. The state Division of Health Service Regulation twice denied the certificate of need for a Youngsville hospital, however, saying low-income and minority residents in the county would have to travel father for medical care if the hospital moved.
Rex Healthcare initially teamed with Franklin Regional on the effort, but last fall, the hospital became part of Winston-Salem-based Novant Health's hospital network.
Novant representatives worked with Louisburg officials on a plan that would create two hospitals in Franklin County to get the town to support its effort to expand into Youngsville.
A preliminary agreement reached in February states that Novant would maintain a 20-bed hospital in Louisburg and renovate other portions of the existing hospital into physician offices. Novant also committed to investing $15 million in the hospital over 12 years.
In a statement released Friday, Jody Morris, chief operating officer of Novant’s facilities in the Triangle, said Louisburg officials demanded a $30 million investment in the existing hospital, including paying higher fees for water usage. The extra expense would have made an $80 million hospital in Youngsville financially unfeasible, he said.
"Novant Health leaders involved in the negotiations described many of the demands of town representatives as ones that other businesses, organizations and county residents would find intolerable," the statement said.
Louisburg Town Councilman Boyd Sturges said Novant wasn't being truthful in blaming the town for its decision to drop plans for a Youngsville hospital. He said the two sides reached the mediated preliminary agreement that Novant executives signed off on, but that they later decided a Youngsville hospital couldn't compete with a WakeMed facility in north Raleigh.
"The town of Louisburg remains constant in its resolve to fight to make Novant provide care for its citizens and for the citizens of Franklin, Warren and Nash counties," Sturges said in a statement. "The town of Louisburg will not be bullied and will not apologize for protecting its citizens."
Novant received state approval to build an outpatient surgery center in Youngsville, and Morris said plans for that facility are in the works.
"We feel that expanding health care services to other parts of the county should be a priority, and we will continue to explore the best options for reaching out to other local communities," Morris said. "Someday, we hope to again begin planning for a two-hospital county.”
Franklin Regional President Jason Proctor said he wants to focus on adding services in Louisburg, and he called on local residents to support the effort.