HCA Broadlands lawsuit dropped, application re-submitted to the Loudoun Board
As rumored, the HCA lawsuit over the BRMC is being dropped as HCA re-submits its application to the new Board of Supervisors:
Broadlands Regional Medical Center is back on the county’s plate, without need of a ruling from the Circuit Court, thanks to a vote tonight by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
Less than five days before the county was scheduled to go to court with Northern Virginia Community Hospital owners Hospital Corporation of America over the previous board’s denial of a special exception application for the Broadlands Regional Medical Center, supervisors voted 5-4 to authorize County Attorney Jack Roberts to delay the court case while hospital representatives submit a new land use application for the Broadlands project. The trial was set to begin at 9 a.m. Monday, March 10.
The vote ended speculation in recent weeks that the case would be continued following the November election that saw the ousting of four Republicans who opposed the Ashburn hospital and a new application would be submitted to a board expected to be more receptive to the proposal.
This seems, to me, to be a curious move. Scott York has always been a proponent of the new hospital. I have no idea about the rest of them – for certain, anyway – but the tally of the vote to allow a re-submission of the application gives some clue to the level of support. Supervisors Burton, Waters, Delgaudio, and Buckley all voted against the motion, preferring to allow the court case to proceed and a ruling to be made. I think that pretty clearly shows they do not support the hospital at Boardlands, but does all of this this mean that the other 5 do support the BRMC? The only way HCA would think that going through the Board’s approval process again over what will be, as Mark Foust of HCA says, “essentially an identical application” would do them any good is if they’d gotten a fair signal that it’ll get approved this time.
That, or HCA’s lawyers are suddenly having second thoughts about the strength of their case. Although it might be more of a political move; getting approval from the board would allow them to take the moral high ground in a way using a lawsuit to shove the BRMC down everyone’s throats would not.
The arguments against the BRMC get re-hashed in this article, with Inova once again claiming that the BRMC would cause all future medical facilities in the south and west of Loudoun to be wiped off the projected map. A new twist, however, is the Health Agency of Northern Virginia’s commentary that we don’t need a new hospital at all.
Regardless of what the two hospital organizations believe, Dean Montgomery, executive director of the Health System Agency of Northern Virginia, said that region-wide there is not much need for inpatient beds at this time.
“Most of the growth is in outpatient care,” he said. Montgomery said that the county did not need to have the Broadlands hospital “to meet the demand. There’s capacity at Lansdowne, Fair Oaks and Reston.” He added that the moderate increases in need have been “more than offset” by additions to the region’s hospitals.
Montgomery said that a second Loudoun hospital would probably be needed at some point, but that would be years, maybe even 10 to 20, away. “It will depend on the population, how much moves in, the type of people that move in,” he said.
Given the attitude our new Board has, I’m sure there will be considerable efforts taken over the next 4 years to make sure any influx of people will be as close to zero as can be done short of building a large wall around Loudoun (complete with the moat, no less). But I have to ask of people like Mr. Montgomery what they have to say about the documented fact that the HCA Broadlands project has, in their possession, an approved Certificate of Public Need? That certificate, fascinatingly enough, says that the state agency charged with making the decision in such matters said there was a public need for a new hospital. The HSANV position is, and has been, that no such need exists but their contention was overruled by the Commissioner of the State Department of Health after a very lengthy, public, and properly held process was followed. (HSANV even attempted to sue the Commissioner over his finding but lost.) I think the notion that there’s no public need is an opinion without base and one dismissed by people we’ve hired to state employment to make that call.
So, this goes back to the Board of Supervisors. One wonders if this is a good idea. It’s taken years to get within 5 days of a court trial on the matter and now we’re headed back to square one. Well, maybe square 2, but it’s still back to nearly the beginning of the process. I hope we can get this handled before it’s time to run County elections again and someone makes the bright suggestion to start all over once more.
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