Lighthouse Care Center files appeal to keep Grand Strand from building mental health facility

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW)-      The South Carolina state senate is considering a bill that would do away with the state’s certificate of need process.

It requires any medical facility that wants to build or expand to get approval from DHEC. Some hospitals say the process is too complicated and keeps them from building what they need to care for patients.

Two years ago, Grand Strand Medical Center applied for a certificate of need to build a new psychiatric facility complete with 20 beds. DHEC approved their CON request, but it was appealed.

“We have people who have mental health issues we cant take care of properly because we’re not allowed to build the in-patient psychiatric services that we need to take care of them,” said Emergency Medical Director Dr. Jon Pangia.

According to court documents, the Lighthouse Care Center of Conway appealed Grand Strand Medical Center’s request.

Lighthouse currently offers in-patient psychiatric services. The appeal says that Grand Strand’s project, ‘reflects an unnecessary duplication of services’ because Georgetown County Memorial Hospital was also given approval to build a psychiatric wing.

“The sad thing is DHEC wants it to move forward, they’ve approved it, they want it to be there but it’s being contested and now lawyers are involved,” explained Pangia.

Lighthouse would not comment.

News 13 with Senator Ray Cleary of Murrells Inlet over the phone. He says the CON process needs to be simplified, but shouldn’t go away all together.

“The certificate of need tries to in some aspects to even the playing field a little bit,” he said.

The bill has been sitting on the Senate floor for over a year. All 46 centers will need to agree to it. Cleary says if they don’t have a decision Thursday June 2, the bill will die.

The Federal Trade Commission released a statement saying it is against the state’s certificate of need program. The FTC said CON laws ‘create barriers to entry and expansion, limit consumer choice, and stifle innovation.’


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