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Mission permit denial won't slow joint campus, Pardee officials say

Pardee board chairman Bill Moyer confers with Stacey Gasperson as Pardee CEO Jay Kirby looks on. Pardee board chairman Bill Moyer confers with Stacey Gasperson as Pardee CEO Jay Kirby looks on.

State regulators have rejected an application by Mission Hospitals to locate an endoscopy clinic at the new medical complex the Asheville hospital is building jointly with Pardee Hospital in Fletcher.

"That was disapproved yesterday," Lisa Pittman, a team leader in the state Certificate of Need office in Raleigh. "The findings would go out on or before Sept. 5." Asked why, she said, the project "didn't meet all the criteria."
The state's decision affects only Mission's application for an endoscopy clinic, not the larger county line medical office building the Asheville and Hendersonville hospitals have jointly launched on U.S. 25 on the county line. Mission received a letter of no review for the medical campus, Pittman said.
The endoscopy clinic was strongly opposed by Park Ridge Health and Asheville physicians who offer the testing process in their offices. In a hearing in May, physicians affiliated with Park Ridge Hospital and some in practice on their own told state regulators that a new clinic would duplicate services and drive up costs.
"I am not aware of any compelling data that says there is a need for additional endoscopy services in the county-line area," Dr. David Manly told the state CON officials. "If this were to take place, it would create a duplication of services, which is what the certificate of need process is designed to prevent."

Park Ridge officials welcomed the news.

“The State’s decision to deny this project is great news for the people of Henderson County," Park Ridge said in a statement. "Our county is blessed to have two exceptional hospitals and numerous world-class physicians who are already meeting the need in our community.”

Pardee CEO Jay Kirby said that Pardee plans to move forward with the medical complex, adding that he'd been assured that Mission's commitment remains steadfast as well.
"We were disappointed to hear that but certainly we knew that was a possible outcome," he said. "However, we continue to move forward with the construction. The construction been under way for some time and certainly this will not deter us from proceeding. We're excited about this project and excited about having a more visible presence in the northern end of the county."

Later, Kirby told the board that the setback for Mission ought not derail Pardee's plans.

“We’ve talked about many times that that’s a growing area of Henderson County, which Pardee Hospital as the county hospital needs to be a part of that environment," he said. "Surely there’s huge growth in South Buncombe County… The denial does not affect any other portion of the project. Specifically, the areas that we will be owning and operating are not affected by that but Mission will begin to look at alternate plans.”

Board chairman Bill Moyer said the C.O.N. denial was not a surprise, and will not affect Pardee's commitment.

“I think it’s very very important to recall that that a couple months ago at a couple meetings we voted on this, spent a lot of time on this, recognized that this (outcome) was a good possibility and wanted to do our planning so that we knew which way we were going to go regardless of what happened," he said. "I always thought it was a good possibility that they would be denied again, and we drew up our plans on the basis that what was right for us, either way this came out, was to move forward with this project. We took a very strong position … that we would continue to move forward either way.

"As Jay indicated, we needed a presence in that area. As I indicated before with the budget, we need to expand our volume, grow our business, move to our top line, and this is one of the ways we’re going to have to do it … That’s been the direction of the board and I see no reason to change it.”

No Pardee board member objected to Moyer's articulation of the board's position.

Kirby said Mission's CEO had assured him that the Asheville hospital's commitment to the county line project is unchanged. The two hospitals have begun work on a $28 million, 81,000-square-foot medical campus on 17 acres of Mission-owned land on the county line in Fletcher that is scheduled for completion in November 2013.
"I spoke with Ron Paulus last evening and we talked about it and we both reaffirmed our commitment to this project given the decision," he said. "Obviously we were both disappointed but not to the point where we do not continue be excited about what we feel is tremendous opportunity to provide care in a more consumer-centric location," he said.