Trinity plan to move to Highway 280 approved

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - Trinity Hospital was given approval Wednesday to move its facility from Montclair Road to the former HealthSouth digital hospital site on Highway 280.

The Certificate of Need Board gave final approval to the plan during its meeting Wednesday in Montgomery. The board, in a 5-0 vote, approved the plan after hearing arguments from representatives of Trinity and from people opposed to the plan.

"This is a truly historic day for healthcare in our state and we are grateful for the Review Board's vision in making it possible," said Trinity Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Keith Granger in a statement to FOX6 News. "We move forward now with the support of the State of Alabama, the City of Birmingham, the regional medical community, the regional business community, and most importantly, the individuals and families across the area who know and trust Trinity Medical Center and expect us to deliver the very best."

An attorney for Trinity Hospital told the board moving the hospital from its current location on Montclair Road would create 12,000 jobs and result in a $486 million impact for the area.  The attorney also said the hospital would die if it is not allowed to relocate from Montclair Road.

Trinity had originally proposed moving 391 hospital beds to the new facility, but agreed to reduce that number by 26 to 365 beds.

The plan was opposed by both Brookwood and St. Vincent's hospitals.  Both have their own plans for medical coverage in the 280 corridor and say there is no need for Trinity.  Kelly Taylor, a representative of Brookwood Hospital, released a statement saying the hospital was disappointed in the decision.

"We are very disappointed in today's ruling," Taylor said. "We had hoped the CON Board would recognize the severe detrimental impact Trinity's relocation will have on existing healthcare providers and reject Trinity's proposal."

People both for and against the plan were at Wednesday's meeting. Some people living on Highway 280 applauded the move, while others living in and around the current facility on Montclair Road said the decision was made out of greed.

Three weeks ago, a judge sided with Trinity in the matter, recommending Trinity be allowed to move to Highway 280. Since then, Trinity Hospital has put on a media campaign, using everything from billboards to Facebook ads to promote the move.
The hospital also installed red lights near the top floor of the building as it awaited a decision. Now that CON has approved the plan, Trinity said those red lights would be changed to green today and would remain green unless the application is appealed.

Trinity said its approved CON application now enters a 30-day appeal period.  Barring appeal or other delay, the Review Board's approval will be final in approximately 45 days and construction would begin later this year. Trinity said it hopes to have the new hospital completed in approximately 24 months.

The CON board also Wednesday urged Trinity Hospital to resolve its litigation with the city of Irondale. The hospital had originally proposed moving its facility to Irondale before settling on the Highway 280 location in Birmingham. The city of Irondale sued Trinity over money the city spent on site preparations.

Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved.