May 11, 2023 - News

Why Richmond providers are against a new HCA hospital in Hanover

Illustration of Caduceus with two snakes fighting.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

There's a hospital war brewing in Hanover County, and all the major health care providers in Richmond are weighing in.

What's happening: HCA Healthcare wants to build a hospital just off of I-95, its first in Hanover and sixth in the Richmond area.

Why it matters: Hospital competition usually means lower prices for consumers, an increase in patient satisfaction and sometimes even better quality of care, according to the FTC and research from the National Institutes of Health.

The opposition: Bon Secours, which operates four Richmond-area hospitals — including Hanover's sole hospital, Memorial Regional Medical Center — says a new HCA center would cut into its business and give HCA an even bigger market share, per the Times-Dispatch.

  • Bon Secours, along with VCU Health, also argues HCA has too many empty beds in its existing hospitals. VCU added that HCA hasn't demonstrated a need for a new one in Hanover.

Of note: Bon Secours is wrapping up a $50 million expansion of its Hanover hospital and announced plans last month to build a new, freestanding ER in Hanover, Richmond BizSense reported.

  • HCA's proposed hospital, announced in January, is about 6 miles from the Bon Secours facility and 4 miles from the new ER.

The other side: HCA says hospital accessibility to I-95 in that area is critical. It also plans to move beds and staff that are currently underused at its existing hospitals to help staff the proposed 60-bed new one.

  • HCA told BizSense in January that it also wants to build a facility that’s closer to its patients in Hanover, who now have to travel 10 miles farther to Henrico Doctors' Hospital.

The big picture: With a median household income of $97,00 and 19% of the population 65 or over, Hanover's population is wealthier and older than the state and region average, according to census data.

Of note: Ultimately, the state health commissioner gets the final say on whether a new hospital can be built by issuing a certificate of public need.

  • The health department, though, recommended HCA's certificate be denied, in part because it agreed with VCU that HCA hasn't demonstrated a need.

What's next: An "informal fact-finding conference" to determine public need will take place in late June, Erik Bodin, director of the state health's public need office, tells Axios.

  • The health commissioner has to make his decision within 100 days of that.

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