HCA’s bid to build new Hanover hospital rejected by the state

hca hanover hospital rendering

A rendering of the hospital that HCA proposed to build on a site near Ashland in Hanover County. (BizSense file)

HCA Healthcare’s effort to build its first hospital in Hanover County has been derailed by the state health department.

State Health Commissioner Karen Shelton last week denied HCA’s application that sought regulatory approval of a proposed 60-bed, $233.6 million acute-care hospital on Sliding Hill Road off of I-95.

Shelton determined the proposed facility was unnecessary to serve medical need in the region, too expensive, and stood to have a negative effect on the operations of other providers in the area, according to her Sept. 29 rejection letter to HCA.

HCA could appeal the decision in court. A health system spokeswoman said HCA was still weighing its options.

“While we respect the Health Commissioner’s decision, we are disappointed in the outcome. As a leading provider of healthcare in central Virginia, HCA Virginia Henrico Doctors’ Hospitals are constantly evaluating gaps in access to care and developing approaches to better meet the needs of the community and our patients,” HCA spokeswoman Pryor Green said in an email Tuesday. “We are reviewing the decision and have not yet decided on next steps.”

In Virginia, health care providers are required to seek the state’s approval to establish certain medical facilities such as hospitals. Prior to the health commissioner’s decision last week, the state health department’s staff as well as a VDH adjudication officer recommended HCA’s proposal be denied.

VDH adjudication officer Vanessa MacLeod wrote in a report dated Sept. 19 that the proposed hospital was not necessary to maintain or improve access to health care in the region.

“The applicant has not demonstrated lack of access to their patients’ preferred providers or to other providers in the service area,” MacLeod wrote.

HCA referred to the facility as Ashland Hospital and wanted to build it at 10054 Sliding Hill Road, which is outside Ashland. It would have operated as a campus of Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Henrico.

MacLeod noted in her report that HCA planned to relocate 60 beds and a cardiac catheterization lab from Retreat Doctors’ Hospital in the Fan to outfit the Hanover hospital. She said that doing so would siphon resources from a poorer area to a more affluent area and “could negatively impact access to services for the indigent persons in the area.”

In her report, MacLeod wrote that while Retreat is licensed for 227 beds, the hospital has only 78 beds staffed.

“Relocating underutilized beds would perpetuate the (region’s) surplus without significant benefit to the area,” MacLeod wrote in her report.

Opposition for HCA’s plans also came from competitors Bon Secours and VCU Health, which both spoke against the Hanover hospital project during the COPN application process. Bon Secours already has a hospital in Hanover County, Memorial Regional Medical Center in Mechanicsville.

In addition to a potential appeal of the VDH decision, HCA does have a backup plan for the Sliding Hill Road property. It previously applied for permission for a free-standing emergency center with imaging capabilities at the same site. A final decision from the state on that proposal is expected in about a month, Green said.

Bon Secours also has a dueling proposal to establish a new emergency center in Hanover County.

HCA filed a zoning request with Hanover County to rezone the Sliding Hill project site in preparation for the hospital and a campus with medical office buildings and commercial space.

The health system hadn’t withdrawn its zoning request for the project site, which is a roughly 40-acre assemblage, according to Hanover spokeswoman Kristin Smith Dunlop.

Hanover County had supported HCA’s plans for a hospital but in a prepared statement Tuesday said it accepted the state’s decision.

“Hanover County supports additional access to quality healthcare for our residents. While this decision may limit HCA’s opportunity to offer expanded care, we respect the State Health Commissioner’s decision. We also appreciate the engagement of our residents throughout this process and will continue to prioritize their well-being,” Dunlop said in an email.

HCA doesn’t yet own the roughly 40-acre assemblage where it wanted to build the hospital, according to online county land records.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported the state’s rejection of HCA’s hospital project application.

hca hanover hospital rendering

A rendering of the hospital that HCA proposed to build on a site near Ashland in Hanover County. (BizSense file)

HCA Healthcare’s effort to build its first hospital in Hanover County has been derailed by the state health department.

State Health Commissioner Karen Shelton last week denied HCA’s application that sought regulatory approval of a proposed 60-bed, $233.6 million acute-care hospital on Sliding Hill Road off of I-95.

Shelton determined the proposed facility was unnecessary to serve medical need in the region, too expensive, and stood to have a negative effect on the operations of other providers in the area, according to her Sept. 29 rejection letter to HCA.

HCA could appeal the decision in court. A health system spokeswoman said HCA was still weighing its options.

“While we respect the Health Commissioner’s decision, we are disappointed in the outcome. As a leading provider of healthcare in central Virginia, HCA Virginia Henrico Doctors’ Hospitals are constantly evaluating gaps in access to care and developing approaches to better meet the needs of the community and our patients,” HCA spokeswoman Pryor Green said in an email Tuesday. “We are reviewing the decision and have not yet decided on next steps.”

In Virginia, health care providers are required to seek the state’s approval to establish certain medical facilities such as hospitals. Prior to the health commissioner’s decision last week, the state health department’s staff as well as a VDH adjudication officer recommended HCA’s proposal be denied.

VDH adjudication officer Vanessa MacLeod wrote in a report dated Sept. 19 that the proposed hospital was not necessary to maintain or improve access to health care in the region.

“The applicant has not demonstrated lack of access to their patients’ preferred providers or to other providers in the service area,” MacLeod wrote.

HCA referred to the facility as Ashland Hospital and wanted to build it at 10054 Sliding Hill Road, which is outside Ashland. It would have operated as a campus of Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Henrico.

MacLeod noted in her report that HCA planned to relocate 60 beds and a cardiac catheterization lab from Retreat Doctors’ Hospital in the Fan to outfit the Hanover hospital. She said that doing so would siphon resources from a poorer area to a more affluent area and “could negatively impact access to services for the indigent persons in the area.”

In her report, MacLeod wrote that while Retreat is licensed for 227 beds, the hospital has only 78 beds staffed.

“Relocating underutilized beds would perpetuate the (region’s) surplus without significant benefit to the area,” MacLeod wrote in her report.

Opposition for HCA’s plans also came from competitors Bon Secours and VCU Health, which both spoke against the Hanover hospital project during the COPN application process. Bon Secours already has a hospital in Hanover County, Memorial Regional Medical Center in Mechanicsville.

In addition to a potential appeal of the VDH decision, HCA does have a backup plan for the Sliding Hill Road property. It previously applied for permission for a free-standing emergency center with imaging capabilities at the same site. A final decision from the state on that proposal is expected in about a month, Green said.

Bon Secours also has a dueling proposal to establish a new emergency center in Hanover County.

HCA filed a zoning request with Hanover County to rezone the Sliding Hill project site in preparation for the hospital and a campus with medical office buildings and commercial space.

The health system hadn’t withdrawn its zoning request for the project site, which is a roughly 40-acre assemblage, according to Hanover spokeswoman Kristin Smith Dunlop.

Hanover County had supported HCA’s plans for a hospital but in a prepared statement Tuesday said it accepted the state’s decision.

“Hanover County supports additional access to quality healthcare for our residents. While this decision may limit HCA’s opportunity to offer expanded care, we respect the State Health Commissioner’s decision. We also appreciate the engagement of our residents throughout this process and will continue to prioritize their well-being,” Dunlop said in an email.

HCA doesn’t yet own the roughly 40-acre assemblage where it wanted to build the hospital, according to online county land records.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported the state’s rejection of HCA’s hospital project application.

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Freddie Edwards
Freddie Edwards
8 months ago

competition makes us strong….Lack of competition makes them strong

Peter James
Peter James
8 months ago

I believe the late, great George Carlin said as much back in the ’90s.

Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
8 months ago

While I agree with wanting more competition, this proposal would not increase competition. What HCA wants to do is remove beds from HCA’s Retreat Hospital in the city and add the same number of beds in Hanover (so they would be paying a significant amount to relocate beds). HCA could invest all or part of that $233M into renovating and improving their Retreat facility which is about 1/3 utilized today, which would actually benefit the region at a lower cost.