USA Health surgery center approved


FAIRHOPE – After a challenge by another medical service provider, USA Health received state approval to build a surgery center at its new location in Fairhope.

The Alabama Certificate of Need Review Board voted 5-0 to approve the certification to allow USA Health to build an ambulatory surgery center, according to a USA Health statement. The center will be constructed on property donated by Louis and Melina Mapp at the intersection of Alabama 181 and Alabama 104.

Owen Bailey, USA Health chief executive officer, praised the decision.

“This is an exciting day for all of us at USA Health,” Bailey said. “We will be able to bring to the people of Baldwin County the specialized healthcare services they need in a much more convenient location for them.”

On May 7, Alabama Administrative Law Judge James F. Hampton recommended that the board deny USA Health the certificate. Hampton said in his recommendation that the center would be good for the area’s economy and healthcare. He said, however, that USA Health had not met the legal requirements needed for the certificate of need.

Infirmary Health, which operates Thomas Hospital in Fairhope and several other medical facilities in Baldwin County, opposed the USA Health application to build the center. Infirmary officials said the area has enough outpatient surgery centers in the area to meet expected demands for services.

Mark Nix, president and CEO of Infirmary Health, said after the CON ruling that the new center is not needed on the Eastern Shore.

“We are obviously disappointed with the decision by the Board that contradicts the findings of Judge Hampton, who, after 15 days of testimony by local leaders, physicians and surgery center experts, ruled just last month that there is no need for another outpatient surgery center in our area and that adding a new facility will have an ‘adverse and severe’ effect on existing healthcare services. The proposed project is based on for-profit wants, not community needs,” Nix said.

The ambulatory surgical center would be a 25,000-square-foot facility that provided outpatient surgery. A USA Health statement said the center will enable patients to receive care with lower copays and deductibles.

USA Health also plans to build a physicians’ office building on the site. Services at that building will include primary care, pediatric specialties, pulmonary medicine, gastroenterology, orthopaedic surgery and urology. Imaging services are also planned at the facility, according to USA Health officials.

“The entire project also allows us to train more members of the next generation of healthcare providers on not only some of the most sophisticated technology available in healthcare, but also in the interpersonal skills that are so important in providing high-quality care to our patients,” Bailey said. “We are very grateful to have the support of the CON Review Board on this project that will help transform medicine in our area.”

The physicians’ office building was not affected by the CON decision. Hospital officials plan to begin construction on that facility in the late summer or early fall of 2021.