St. Elizabeth challenges Christ Hospital Surgery Center

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The battle over what to do with the area in and around the former Drawbridge Inn in northern Kentucky was not expected to be over anytime soon.

The Christ Hospital has plans to build an outpatient surgery center on the property, but those plans were on hold after a legal challenge from Saint Elizabeth Healthcare. They argue another outpatient surgery center in northern Kentucky wasn't necessary.

At the former site of the Drawbridge Inn in Fort Mitchell, The Christ Hospital plans for what's called an ambulatory surgery center.

Kendall Herold, spokesperson The Christ Hospital, said, "So what we would hope to build on that property is an outpatient center with an emergency room, diagnostics, physician services; really just offering consumers another health care alternative in the northern Kentucky area."

Herold said The Christ Hospital has assessed the need and patients want it. But unlike where Christ's main hospital is in Mount Auburn, Ohio, attorney Mark Guilefoyle said Kentucky law requires they prove patients don't already have enough of the services if Christ wants to provide more of them.

Guilefoyle represents Saint Elizabeth Healthcare, which has challenged the point in court. It seems like there's some discrepancy over a "certificate of need."

"In order to build a new healthcare facility in Kentucky, the provider has to prove that there's a need for that facility in northern Kentucky," said Guilefoyle.

Saint Elizabeth argues that there are nine centers already in northern Kentucky that are not at capacity and offer similar services to the one Christ wants to build. Guilefoyle said even birth control procedures, such as tubal ligations not provided by Saint Elizabeth Healthcare because it's a Catholic hospital, are still available for women through an independent facility.

Guilefoyle said Saint Elizabeth Healthcare sees a greater percentage of patients on medicaid and medicare than The Christ Hospital does, even now in its offices open in Fort Wright. When asked about that claim Herold said that was absolutely not true.

The dispute was not likely to end anytime soon. The "certificate of need" decision could come down anytime between January and June. However it goes, it's likely to be appealed by the other side.

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