HCA wants permission from Tennessee health officials to plant a $14 million freestanding emergency department in Antioch. The proposal is a compromise after years of trying to tap into the lucrative Williamson County market.
The move comes after HCA bought land and was ready to build in Brentwood. But the state denied the request saying there was no need for another emergency room in the healthiest and wealthiest part of the state. Vanderbilt Medical Center also took a rare step and formally contested the project, accusing HCA of trying to siphon off commercially insured customers, who help subsidize Vanderbilt's charity care.
But in the denial, the state recommended building a few miles down Old Hickory Boulevard in Antioch, which is now home to 100,000 people and has no emergency services.
"There simply are more people in the Antioch area to use an emergency room," administrative judge Mattielyn Williams wrote.
HCA cites Williams' ruling in its petition for a certificate of need — which is required in Tennessee. The Nashville-based hospital chain also quotes the local Metro Council member and residents who say they want an emergency department.
"Our church members and this community deserve access to high-quality emergency care provided by a trusted hospital," pastor Randy Cordell says in the application.
Hospital companies are building freestanding emergency departments as a way to funnel patients to anchor facilities. HCA is leading the way nationally, with more than 70 EDs in operation and at least 30 approved for construction. Locally, HCA has emergency departments in Spring Hill, Portland, Dickson and soon Mount Juliet.
If approved in Antioch, the 11-bed unit would be in the new Century Farms development off of I-24. The facility would technically be an outpost of TriStar Southern Hills.
"Over 35 percent of residents in Antioch choose TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center for their emergency care needs," a hospital spokesperson writes in a statement. "The freestanding emergency department would provide high-quality emergency care with easy access to the Antioch community."
The Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency reviews the request in June.