Erlanger Health System plans to continue its recent spate of expansions, with an $11.3 million freestanding emergency department in Bradley County, said hospital CEO Kevin Spiegel.
Last week, Erlanger submitted a certificate of need application to the state for review. If Spiegel's plans come to fruition, the southeast quadrant of Exit 20 on Interstate 75 north will be home to a Level IV trauma center that includes a helipad and cardiac catheterization lab.
"We believe Bradley County is growing, and we believe the medical infrastructure has been cycled for many years," Spiegel said on Tuesday. "We have data that show there's a dramatic need for expertise."
Matt Gibson, chief strategy officer for Erlanger, said about 20,000 people per year from Bradley County and its eastern neighbor, Polk County, travel outside the area for emergency services. With the recent closure of Copper Basin Medical Center in Polk County, Gibson expects more patients will travel to Chattanooga for care.
One goal of the Bradley County facility would be to support those people close to home but also to free up space at Erlanger's main hospital.
"We don't want patients unnecessarily traveling to downtown Chattanooga if they don't have to, because that's not good for access to our high-end, speciality services," he said.
But Erlanger's rampant growth isn't going unchallenged.
Tennova Healthcare in Cleveland announced its intent to build a freestanding emergency department north of its hospital in Bradley County. The Knoxville-based hospital company has 16 hospitals scattered across the state and plans to file a certificate of need application next month.
"Our hospital has a long history of caring for our friends and neighbors in the local community, and we have for quite some time contemplated the prospect of offering another location to provide convenient, high-quality emergency medical care close to where our patients live and work," Tennova spokeswoman Stephanie Austin said.
Next Monday, Erlanger will wage another expansion battle in an Atlanta courtroom against CHI Memorial and claims to a surgery center in Ringgold, Ga.
Contact staff writer Elizabeth Fite at email@example.com or 423-757-6673.