Guest Editorial

The chamber supports the proposed behavioral hospital

Almost everyone in Coweta County is now aware that the Georgia Department of Community Health rejected the application for a Certificate of Need (CON) from US HealthVest to build a behavioral hospital in Newnan. The CON is a requirement for the construction and operation of healthcare facilities in Georgia. Without it, nothing can move forward.

The response to this obstacle has been nearly universal with both the Coweta County and city of Newnan governments vowing to appeal the ruling as well as the Newnan-Coweta Chamber, Piedmont Newnan Hospital and other business leaders in support. There is a strong feeling that the Newnan Behavioral Hospital, as it’s being called, is needed for serving the people in our region.

Everybody from Coweta and, I suspect, the region appears to be strongly in favor of this mental healthcare addition for patients needing this type of service. In fact, it seems the only entities opposed to the operation of this facility would be the Department of Community Health and Tanner Health Systems, the major contributor of data opposing it.

As a business advocate, I can’t totally fault Tanner Health System for opposing it because the competition could cost it customers/patients. Competition is a good thing except when it is competing for business that you would like a monopoly on. But when it comes to serving a need for the public, that’s when it’s time to make a distinction between the public’s health needs and competing for patients.

A study titled the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) found that Coweta’s mental health ranking is less than either the state’s or national averages. Further, “Coweta’s population is booming,” noted the study, and said that between 2000 and 2010, the population of the county jumped by 43 per cent to about 129,000. Obviously the need in Coweta for mental health care won’t be decreasing even slightly.

But for a moment, let’s not even look at the job creation, the usage of the old empty hospital building on Hospital Road, or any of the other positive effects of the behavioral hospital on the county. Let’s look at the very human side of things, especially the needs of returning men and women military personnel. The South in general, including Coweta, is proud of supplying a large percentage of personnel for our volunteer military services. We hold parades, we honor old and young soldiers, sailors, marines and air force personnel, we place bumper stickers on our cars, and we mean every one of those supportive and patriotic actions sincerely. Why on earth are we not able to put a behavioral hospital here for the needs of our returning military veterans and other citizens?

It is NOT because there is no need for it. In this case, it’s about money over service and that’s not right. The newspapers are full of stories about the increasing rates of suicides from our returning vets. The cases of post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) continue to expand and the need for increased mental healthcare facilities and services grows daily. There is only one correct position to take in this case, and that is FOR appealing the Department of Community Health’s denial of the Certificate of Need.

The Chamber thanks the governments of Coweta and Newnan and is proud and more than willing to join in supporting the appeal of the Department of Community Health’s rejection of the application. Please join me for the sake of the people who need treatment and let your County Commissioners, the City Council of Newnan, and the State of Georgia’s Department of Community Health know that we will not rest until this error in judgment is corrected.

Candace Boothby President, Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce



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